• Donald Long (right) checks out wooden wares made by Mark Reddaway (center) and Foster Johnston (left). Photo by BEN KATZ
    Donald Long (right) checks out wooden wares made by Mark Reddaway (center) and Foster Johnston (left). Photo by BEN KATZ

Mountain Crafters Festival coming this weekend

   Murphy – The Cherokee County Mountain Crafters Festival will return this weekend for a second year of live music, local vendors and supporting the arts.
   From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, more than 40 crafters will fill the Murphy High School gymnasium off Bulldog Drive.
   As a nonprofit, the free festival not only raises money to fund next year’s event, but also supports the Backpack Program and provides two fine arts grants. The Backpack Program helps students in low-income families by sending kids home with enough food to last over the weekend.
   “Primarily because we’re a nonprofit, our aim is to give back to the community by becoming more focused on the Cherokee County School System,” said Jean Miller, president of the Mountain Crafters Festival.
   The festival will turn up the volume with live entertainment, including performances from the John C. Campbell Folk School Cloggers, The Mason Jars, New Mercies and other musicians. The Murphy High School Band Booster Club will set up a barbecue concession, and members of girls’ athletics teams will provide baked goods.
   The festival will include a silent auction, with all items donated by local businesses, organizations and individuals. More than 65 baskets and single items will go up for auction, with winners announced at 2 p.m. Sunday. For those unable to pick up their items Sunday, event coordinators will call the winners to make arrangements.
   Most of the baskets embrace a certain theme; for example, one of the baskets holds pet-related goodies. Some of the other items in the baskets includes a 30-minute plane ride, $150 makeover, restaurant gift certificates and other high-valued goods.
   Last year, around 1,660 people attended the festival, making it a successful first year. Through the efforts of the nonprofit’s board and other volunteers, the festival has once again filled up its indoor vendor spaces.
   “We’re trying to give the local crafters and the ones who haven’t done any exhibiting before a venue,” Miller said.