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A Look Back at Our First Craft Fair

A Look Back at Our First Craft Fair

As Tennessee Craft’s 50th anniversary quickly approaches, it’s hard to believe how much the organization and its fairs have grown in the past years. A few members have been here to witness this growth and change, including Pat Beaver.

Pat Beaver’s influence on the very first craft fair, held in 1971, began with a frustration of Nashville’s lack of a juried show involving innovative, professional craft artists. Pat took this frustration to a few of her friends, Sue Barnes and Sylvia Hyman. “Could you have a craft fair that’s nothing but crafts?” Beaver wondered. She wasn’t even sure if anyone would come to such an event. However, with those two worries in mind, Pat and the other craft artists went to Centennial Park to pitch their plan.

With a $600 donation from the Arts Commission, prize money from First American Bank and a small patch of grass off to the side of the park, the crew set to work staking out lots and planning the first craft fair. Fortunately, the fair was a huge success, but the group decided they needed a bigger and better space, so they decided to move the fair near the Parthenon. It took endless amounts of negotiating, but the group succeeded and the fair was finally moved near the Parthenon.

During the early planning stages and throughout each fair, Pat notes the great relationships that developed between the sponsors of the fair, artists, as well the community of Nashville as a whole. These relationships were a huge part of the success of the fairs, and of the organization. “I loved every minute of my experience with the fairs and the community,” Pat shared. The fairs fostered community and a love of craft that has carried over throughout the 50 years of Tennessee Craft.

With the start of the first craft fair, Tennessee crafts became a national phenomenon. Pat remembers trips she made to Washington, D.C. and around the country to showcase her works. She also recalls the boom in popularity of basketry, quilting and other works coming out of the Appalachians. The culture of Tennessee crafts was flourishing so well it was difficult to believe a few scattered tents and $600 created the fair that started it all.

Through all of her innovations, Pat had a huge impact on Tennessee Craft, as well as the national craft community with her methods. For the next 50 years, Pat hopes to see artists “keep their visions wide, and be eager”, as well as carry on the community of craft.  Though extremely humble about her influence on craft and the organization, Pat’s presence in the community at the spark of the craft movement helped set the foundation for 50 successful years of Tennessee Craft.


This entry was posted on Friday, December 12th, 2014 at 12:34 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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