The 32nd Annual Festival of the Mountain Masters is set to kick off on Friday at the Village Center Mall, bringing artisans, vendors and musicians from all over the region to sell their products, show off their skills and put their talent on display.
Harlan Tourism Director Brandon Pennington confirmed the festival will run from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
“We have a slew of talented Appalachians coming to sell their crafts,” Pennington said. “The thing we love about this festival is everything is handmade, hand-crafted or home-baked. Nothing is commercial.”
Pennington said the festival is a truly Appalachian experience.
“We have anything from quilting, soap making, candle making, chair caning, wheel spinning, anything your heart desires, you can find it there,” Pennington said.
Pennington said the festival gives awards to the best participants in several categories.
“We give out four awards every year,” Pennington explained. “We have the grand master of the festival – whoever has the best craft for the festival wins the grand master trophy. We have the master craftsman award, we have master display and there’s also the best decorated vending booths awards.”
Pennington added there will also be a photography contest, with awards given in several categories.
According to Pennington, more than 60 vendors and demonstrators are expected to take part in this year’s festival.
“We’ll have food there as well,” Pennington said. “We have a local barbecue vendor, and then we have fair foods like funnel cake and hamburgers.”
This is the third year the 32-year-old festival has been organized by the Harlan Tourism and Convention Commission and the Harlan Chamber of Commerce.
Pennington added Mike Howard, the Mountain Santa, will be taking donations at the festival for his yearly toy giveaway.
There is also a long list of musicians lined up to perform at the festival, including The Kudzu Killers, Sunrise Ridge, 2016 Voice of Poke winner Wendy Clem and 2015 Poke’s Got Talent winner Brooklyn Collins.
“This is my favorite festival that we do,” Pennington said. “We’ve only been doing it for three years, but it is absolutely my favorite because everything is handmade, it’s an authentic Appalachian experience. All of the vendors are wonderful. You’re getting quality crafts. You’re getting quality gifts for Christmas. I highly recommend to everyone out there, skip Black Friday and come out to the Mountain Masters and get your Christmas gifts.”
Admission to the festival is free. For more information, visit www.harlantourism.com or call 606-573-4156.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hd