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Crafts Scene is Buzzing in Berea

By Gwen Hefner, Kentucky Artisan Center

Berea, Ky. is well known for its craft history and traditions as well as the wealth of talented artisans, fine craft galleries and shops located throughout Old Town, College Square and Chestnut Street. New to this mix are exciting events and learning activities that are now available to visitors, travelers and residents alike.

At the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea visitors can watch demonstrating artisans, musical performances, book signings and food tastings and take home educational handouts every Saturday of the year from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Center showcases innovative works in 4-5 special gallery exhibitions each year and offers second-Saturday gallery talks each month.  

The City of Berea offers visitors numerous learning experiences such as the popular Self-Guided Studio Artists at Berea Tours which take visitors into numerous interesting studios throughout the town and beyond. Teachers and educators can attain new professional development training by participating in Berea’s Arts Across the Curriculum program. Educators tour a variety of artist studios, acquire lesson plans to incorporate into their classrooms and return with students for on-site learning.

Berea College crafts can be viewed on the college square at the Boone Tavern Gift Shop, the Log House Craft Gallery and at the SCOTS center. Visitors can also take student-led tours through the college’s Student Craft Industries production areas to watch broomcraft, weaving, woodcraft and jewelry making. Tours are Monday - Friday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Call 859-985-3145 for more details.

The Berea Arts Council offers a variety of year round arts experiences including exciting gallery exhibits and first-Friday readings.  They will host a watercolor workshop with artist Joe Fettingis June 7-9, 2012. Call 859-985-9317.

Berea’s newest opportunity for learning is called the Berea Festival of Learnshops. Artists from all around the state lead classes and hands-on workshops in contemporary crafts, music, woodworking, painting, writing, culinary arts and more. Just about any trade or skill you might want is offered by working professionals in small and personal studio settings. Whole families can come and learn as many classes are available to children. Registration for the July 13-29, 2012 offerings has begun and courses available are listed online at www.berea.com.

And Berea is also home to two exciting craft fairs, both held each year in the beautiful woods of Indian Fort Theater. Demonstrating artists and children’s activities are always a part of these enjoyable fairs making them a true family destination. The Berea Craft Festival is held annually in July, and the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsman’s Fall Fair is always held during the height of the color season in October.

If dancing takes your fancy, Berea is home to the Oh Contraire Dance Association which holds dance/teaching sessions with callers and musicians from across the country every fourth Saturday at the Acton Folk Center. The groups holds an annual Spring Dance Weekend April 27-29. For more information, visit folkcircle.org/contra.

Berea is also home to the nationally known Christmas Country Dance School held Dec. 26 - Jan 1. Classes offered are in traditional English clog, country, Morris, rapper, Danish, Appalachian clogging, and square dance. All age participants can also take classes in singing, instruments and crafts. Register by Dec. 1 at berea.edu/ccds

Berea is a growing, unique and creative community - a place where it can indeed be said that the - Arts are Alive!