Oct. 6: “Colorfest, Art & Taste of Appalachia”
Photo by COLORFEST
The colors of autumn and art take center stage during the fourth annual “Colorfest, Art & Taste of Appalachia” festival in Dillsboro on October 6. This free, daylong arts and food event fill the sidewalks of Dillsboro with a variety of mountain artisans demonstrating their skills, plus food vendors serving up a taste of North Carolina.
Visitors are encouraged to stroll amongst painters as they capture the hues of autumn in the mountains. Interact with crafters, authors, growers, wine makers, chefs and musicians.
This year’s theme is “The Hidden Artist.” The festival spotlights 35 artists who have a sense of mystery surrounding them and their work. These hidden artists are revealed at the festival where they will demonstrate their expertise in front of the shop of the Dillsboro merchant who is sponsoring their artwork. “This year ColorFest showcases artists who have, heretofore, hidden themselves away from the spotlight, preferring to create within the silence of their own environment,” says festival organizer Doreyl Ammons Cain.
Among the featured artists are Luzell Bennett of Whittier, who creates wonderful paintings on preserved leaves from Appalachian forests; and Diane Halasz of Murphy, who uses her paint brush to transform rocks into small, whimsical houses. When, two years ago, someone told Diane she should paint on rocks, she decided to give it a shot. Using acrylic paint, she transformed pieces of brick, stone, and rock to make them into houses, churches, stores, and more. “My husband Joe says I come up with strange ideas,” Diane explains, “and he’s right …. My love of the art and the mountains overflows into an abundance of color and style—rock art, large framed landscapes and even small 3.5” by 5” paintings.”
Watercolorists Sheryl Bessette of Murphy and Pamela Haddock of Sylva are also at work at their easels. “In the backdrop of these beautiful mountains I find myself at peace with my paint brush, my paper, and Mother Nature,” Sheryl says.
Joining the painters in this colorful endeavor are many other artists showcasing their talents in glass, clay, sculpture, fiber art, caning, wood carving, ceramics and fine furniture. Additionally, booths lining Front Street during the festival feature other demonstrations. One local author featuring her books is Victoria A. Casey McDonald, author of The African Americans of Jackson County and Just Over the Hill, which has been recently released. Her stories are based on the history of the county and the African Americans who helped make the scattered black communities into one united community.
David Ammons demonstrates his vintage art of chair caning. “We don’t have to make our own ‘necessary furniture’ today,” he says, “but I truly enjoy thinking about the history behind caning.”
Local musicians and street entertainers add music to festivities. Ron Smith, Henry Queen, Pam Dengler, Dusk Weaver, The Ross Brothers, Robin Whitley, and Teresa Davis demonstrate their talents with the guitar, fiddle, banjo, and voice.
Old-fashioned, homemade Amish apple butter brews in a copper kettle hung over a wood fire near the railroad tracks. Conrad Brown and the Catch the Spirit of Appalachia crew turn the wooden paddle that cooks the apples into a buttery, soft consistency.
Restaurants and shops are open to serve the crowds throughout the day. Jarrett House serves delicate hot biscuits and family-style home-cooked meals, the Well House serves deli sandwiches, and Kosta’s offers Greek food, for instance.
Along Church Street near Dillsboro Chocolate Factory and on Front Street near Treehouse Pottery vendors share their expertise with food and wine tasting. Some vendors include Heinzelmannchen Brewery, Lake James Wineries, Cherokee Cellers, Carolina Pig Polish, Tarters Tasty Treats, Smoky Mountain Kettlecorn.
“ColorFest, Art & Taste of Appalachia” is produced by the non-profit Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, in partnership with support from the Dillsboro Merchants Association, Jackson County Arts Council through Grassroots Arts Programs, Jackson County Visual Arts Association and Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.
Festival hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information, contact Jackson County Chamber of Commerce at 800.962.1911. To learn more about Dillsboro, check out visitdillsboro.org.