This huge, four-day-long festival in West Virginia has a little bit of everything

For more than half a century the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair has been as closely stitched into West Virginia’s heritage as the squares of the quilts you’ll find on exhibit at this time-honored annual celebration.

The inaugural event was held at Cedar Lakes Conference Center in 1963 as part of West Virginia’s centennial celebration. It was intended to be a one-time event, but the fair was so popular that it became an annual attraction, bringing visitors from far and wide to browse the works of gifted Appalachian artists and artisans and watch demonstrations as their creations are brought to life.

For four days every year, the picturesque landscape of Cedar Lakes is dotted with colorful tents displaying a wide variety of handcrafted wares from more than 100 juried artisans and exhibitors. On any given year, you’ll find pottery, jewelry, leatherworks, woodworks, paintings, photography, and all-natural personal care items like bath products, as well as a variety of locally made and homegrown food, from produce to honey to soup mixes.

Fairgoers can shop to their heart’s content as well as participate in interactive artisan demonstrations showcasing traditional Appalachian crafts like broom making, basket weaving and stained-glass making. They can take a break and enjoy live music and dancing while they rest on a bale of hay in the shade. Additional fair attractions include a quilt show, antique engine demonstrations, and even a petting zoo the kids will love.

The concessions area is just as vast as the crafts, with local food vendors offering a wide variety of vittles from roast corn on the cob to traditional fair food like funnel cakes. Scheduled wine and beer tastings offer guests the opportunity to sample regional wine and craft beer.

Visitors can also tour several historic structures at Cedar Lakes including a log cabin, a one-room schoolhouse, and a covered bridge. Built in 1887, the Staats Mill Covered Bridge originally crossed the Tug Fork of Big Mill Creek before it was restored and moved to Cedar Lakes in 1983.

Traditionally held the week of July 4, the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair was moved to fall for a few seasons before returning to its original summer date, which occurs around the same time as the annual Ripley Fourth of July Celebration. Billed as the U.S.’s largest small-town Independence Day celebration, the event is the oldest parade and oldest Independence Day celebration in West Virginia.

Have you ever been?

This post was last updated on March 17, 2022