November 2017


Joe Frank McKee reuniting with friend Logan Hull. 

WNC Pottery Festival Brings People Together From Near and Far

Potters and visitors from across the country gathered together in Dillsboro on Saturday, Nov. 4 to create, demonstrate, and appreciate the world of clay art. The WNC Pottery Festival has been hosted on Front Street for the past 13 years, and the 2017 festival did not disappoint. Dillsboro was covered in a rainbow of clay creations, ranging from functional pieces like mugs and lotion pumps to eclectic decorative pigs.


Joe Frank McKee, who owns and operates Tree House Pottery, a retail store and wholesale clay vendor in Dillsboro, has led the festival since its inception. While McKee has been in the clay business for more than 27 years and travels to pottery festivals and art shows around the country, he is happy to call WNC Pottery Festival home.

“We run a lot of people through the gates,” said McKee. “This year, the show went off without a hitch and the turnout was overwhelming.”


In addition to having more than 40 juried vendors, the Pottery Festival offers day-long raffles and live demonstrations of pottery throwing. Guests observed the creation of vases and pitchers or learned about the variety of ways a potter might leave intricate designs on their pieces. Most presenters encouraged a relaxed question and answer session during the demonstration, encouraging participants of all ages and experience levels to learn more about the art. The festival coordinators make an effort to include a variety of demonstrators and vendors from sculptors, paper clay, and raku artists.

“I love this festival because it brings potters from all over the country right to our backyard,” said Sylva native Tyra Simmons. “I first came in 2008, and it’s always a lot of fun. There are always a lot of really interesting creations.”


While the festival is a great way to physically bring people together, it also serves as an example of the way art can help form a bond between people. Mother-daughter duo Vallyn Anderson and Rusty Owens are part of the Southwestern Community College ceramics program. They were excited to be back at the Pottery Festival for their fourth year, selling a variety of pottery on behalf of their school.

“Mom begged me for a long time to take a pottery class,” said Anderson. “It’s something she’s been doing for a long time and once I took my first bowl-throwing class, I found that I really enjoyed it, too.”

In total, seven students from Southwestern had their creations for sale, each student showing off a unique style with each of their items.


No matter your familiarity with pottery, mark your calendars for November 3, 2018, when WNC Pottery Festival will return to Front Street. You are sure to leave with art, memories, or perhaps a heart-warming story of a potter’s journey to this esteemed show.



A Gift Guide To Shopping Local This Holiday Season

The weather may trick you into thinking it’s spring, but the truth is the holiday season is rapidly approaching. No matter the winter festivities you prefer to celebrate, gift-giving is a highlight of the holiday season. Feel especially good about the presents you’ve wrapped for your loved ones by buying them from your local retailers!

Dillsboro, North Carolina is home to quality artisans and crafters and unique retail stores. Here’s a quick guide to help you find just the right gifts for all of the special folks on your list:


The Artsy Olive – Select from a large variety of olive oils, vinegars, sugars, salts, and special sauces to help spice up the holidays.

Country Traditions – Find wines, gourmet specialty items and gift baskets at this little nook of southern hospitality.

Dillsboro Chocolate FactorySatisfy everyone’s sweet tooth with the Chocolate Factory’s famous selection of fudge, truffles, and candy.

For the arts and crafts  lover:

Dogwood CraftersThis local craft cooperative offers fine arts and crafts honoring Dillsboro’s mountain heritage with a tastefully modern twist.

Oaks GalleryFeaturing a variety of handmade arts and crafts, including exceptional woven pieces, checkout Oaks Gallery for creations from more than 100 local artisans.

Rabbit Creek PotteryPotters can use the studio to create pieces, but Rabbit Creek also offers a selection of locally-crafted functional and decorative clay works.

Riverwood Pottery  – Find handmade jewelry and functional pottery crafted by a family local to Dillsboro.

Treehouse Pottery – Peruse the gallery to find functional or decorative pieces of pottery, raku, horsehair, or signature leaf design pieces.

Tunnel Mountain CraftsWith more than 60 contributing artisans, you’ll find a wide variety of arts and crafts, including functional pottery and stoneware.


Golden CarpChoose from a unique and ecletic selection of home decor, original art, baskets, and special antiques. Both gift certificates and design consultations are available!


Haywood Smokehouse MercantileDid you know that your favorite local smokehouse also offers a selection of old-time toys and candies alongside handcrafted home decor?

Magnolia Jewelry Featuring a large selection of beautiful sterling silver, natural gems, or locally hand-crafted jewelry, Magnolia Jewelry offers a great selection at affordable prices.

Monkey Toes – Discover a fun selection of t-shirts, Tula hats, socks, and special gifts for the whole family in this one-of-a-kind shop.

Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop – Whether you’re buying a new ornament for a special occasion or looking for a beautiful gift item for your loved one, your holiday shopping excursion in Dillsboro will not be complete until you visit Nancy Tut’s!

Scope out the greatest deals from the greatest stores in WNC when you visit Dillsboro on Small Business Saturday, November 25.

country traditions

Homemade Holidays Are A Country Tradition

From pumpkin spice to turkey dinner, autumn conjures up a variety of delicious foods. If there were ever a place for hundreds of flavors and tastes to combine and culminate for an exceptional experience, it would be at Country Traditions in Dillsboro, NC.

This homegrown food specialty store has been offering gourmet treats, wine and gifts to Western North Carolina residents and tourists from around the country since 2005. Their staple wines and cheeses are a hit among the local community, while newer products are capturing adventurous taste buds.

A wine lover’s dream, Country Traditions offers dozens of varieties, including an excellent selection of North Carolina wines. Whether you are a casual wine fan or a wine savant, there is something for all tastes. Full-bodied Merlots and sweet, crisp Moscato are just a few of the available options. For an amazing finish, pair your glass of wine with one of the many varieties of local cheese. Not sure what to choose? Owners John and Janet Chinners will be happy to pour you a sample of any wine in the store, as well as provide guidance on food and wine pairings.

If wine just isn’t for you, don’t fret!  Local craft beer is offered too.

With over 200 gourmet product combinations, Country Traditions has a variety of culinary delicacies to satisfy any appetite. Honey Sriracha sauce, truffle aioli, and apple jalapeno jelly are some of the wonderful goodies to take home this holiday season. You’ll find everything you need for both entertaining and gift giving at Country Traditions.

Country Traditions is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, until 6 p.m. on Fridays and until 7 p.m. on Saturdays. Visit them at 73 Webster Street, call them at 828-586-1600, and like them on Facebook.

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