Every fall, Centennial Park in Nashville turns into a tent city when artists set up booths to display their handcrafted works. The Tennessee Association of Craft Artists, known as TACA, will welcome more than 200, from in and out of state, the weekend of September 24. TACA is strict about excellence standards so this is the place to go if you’re shopping for treasures rather than bargain hunting.
The 2010 Fall Craft Fair is the 32nd year for the event, hosted by the independent, non-profit organization whose support comes from the Tennessee Arts Commission, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Frist Foundation, LifeWorks Foundation, as well as other group and individual donations.
There is no entrance fee (although you can add a few dollars to the donation bowl). Since the fair is outdoors, it attracts big crowds that include babies in strollers and pet dogs (on a leash).
Exhibits for Browsers or Shoppers
Thousands typically come to browse or shop from the huge array of arts and crafts: beautiful woodwork carvings in bowls, boxes and figures, furniture, stained glass and blown glass, sculptures to display indoors and out, colorful glazed pottery of every size and shape, musical instruments, leather goods, woven goods and hand-dyed clothing, jewelry crafted of gold, silver or other unexpected materials, photography, and wall art. Whatever treasure you find that you would like to buy or just admire, you can expect it to be unique.
Artists on Site
Judges do award Best of Show and recognition in other categories to the exhibitors. Those awards are posted on the winners’ booths/tents. The artists themselves are usually there so you can stop to say hello and chat if you like. You can even watch some artists demonstrating their craft. TACA includes a kids’ tent where children can make their own handcrafted keepsakes.
Music and Food
A line of tents makes up a food court section where local restaurants serve up meals or munchies including that Southern favorite: crispy deep-fried funnel cakes dusted with powdered sugar. This is Music City so while you eat, you can also enjoy entertainment nearby on a small ground stage where a series of artists perform acoustic sets.
About the Park
The location, Centennial Park, is a 132-acre urban park off West End and 25th Avenue North. The TACA Fall Craft Fair takes place essentially on the front lawn of the Parthenon. Just look for the tents.
Parking spots on the side streets fill up fast and the weather may be hot so it’s a good idea to get there early. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, September 24 and 25, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, September 26.
The 2010 Best of Tennessee Craft follows the fair. This juried biennial exhibit opens September 27 and goes through October 15 in The Gallery at Todd Hall on the campus of Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro.