Attending Pottery Festivals

Pottery festivals give visitors the opportunity to meet the potters and watch them work. Pottery expert Dr. Terry Zug, former chair of Southern Folklore at UNC-Chapel Hill and author of Turners and Burners: The Folk Potters of North Carolina makes these recommendations to first-time festival goers:

face jug

Face Jug by Charles Lisk

  • Viewing and purchasing pottery is more than an economic transaction, it's a social transaction. You can become good friends with the potter you buy from, and develop a relationship that lasts a lifetime. Spend time talking to potters and learn their backgrounds and family histories. In doing so, you'll have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the work that you bring into your home.

  • When you go depends on what you want. Most festivals have a gala event preceding the public opening. The gala gives you a first crack at purchasing the pottery as well as the opportunity to talk more intimately with the potters and pottery experts - there might be 800 people at the gala versus 6,000 at the opening the following day. Galas can be expensive, but they're fun - often, there will be live string band music as well as food and drink.

  • Enjoy the beauty. Whether functional or decorative, pottery is meant to be looked at and enjoyed. Arrive early to appreciate the sparkling, shining sea of pottery that will greet you when the festival opens.

  • Learn something about the craft of pottery. All pottery festivals have an educational component, which can deepen the visitor experience. Among the activities you may find and enjoy are pottery identification clinic, pottery-making demonstrations and showings of videos about pottery.



The North Carolina Arts Council is a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.
Susan Kluttz, Secretary; Pat McCrory, Governor