A Visit to the 2009 Celebration of Seagrove Potters Festival in Seagrove, NC – Part III

This shouldn’t be too long (right), but I just wanted to make some observations/suggestions about the pottery festivals, Seagrove, the potters there and the NC Pottery Center.

I’ll begin with the NC Pottery Center. I know it would probably be hard to find more volunteers to do this, but I think the Center should stay open extra hours, from 4-6pm – until the Friday night Gala Preview opens for the Celebration of Seagrove Potters. Most people in Seagrove who support the Center are probably involved with the festival and the Gala, but there were a lot of folks who were driving by the Pottery Center after 4pm – looking for something to do.

There may have been a lot of folks who arrived in Seagrove early for the Gala – folks who may have only planned to go to the Gala, and although there were plenty of potteries open to visit – they may have hoped to see the exhibit at the NC Pottery Center – Fire in the Valley: Catawba Valley Pottery Then and Now, which will be on view through Jan. 30, 2010..

I also think they should try to be open Sunday while both festivals are still going on. It’s the one weekend in Seagrove when the most people interested in pottery are in town and I would think it would be good for the Pottery Center to be open.

But I understand that this small town of 250 might already be stretched to capacity as to how much more it can do. So, this might be a good opportunity for those supporters of the NC Pottery Center who live outside of the Seagrove area to step up and answer the call of duty on this weekend so the Pottery Center can still man a booth at the Celebration of Seagrove Potters.

I hope you’ll understand why the Pottery Center is not involved with the Seagrove Pottery Festival since its organizers, the Bobbsey Twins of the pottery world, have tried their best or worst to close it down.

Another observation is that I think the idea, supplied by Michael Mahan of From the Ground Up pottery of offering collaborative works for the Gala Preview auction – is one of the greatest ideas I know of in fundraising. It brings the potters together – as if they could get any closer, creates a unique opportunity for pottery collectors (some of the potters even made bids on these works) and gives the Celebration a good promotional tool which can draw even more people to the Gala Preview.

On the question of should there be more collaborative works offered or less – I don’t know. Perhaps the number should be tied to how many advance tickets are sold to the Gala Preview. If next year’s ticket sales are increased by a few hundred more folks like this year – there may be a need for more collaborative items to be offered at the auction. But the balance is delicate as the main goal of the festival is for the potteries to sell pottery. Still, I would guess some people were drawn especially to the Gala Preview for the collaborative works.

My message to those Seagrove potters participating in the Seagrove Pottery Festival (the other pottery festival taking place in Seagrove that weekend), which I have nothing against is – look for new leadership before you become just another arts and craft festival. The Celebration of Seagrove Potters has the right idea in how to keep the heritage and traditions of the true Seagrove area alive. Your festival is drifting in the wrong direction – with the wrong captain at the wheel.

I’m not saying there is no room for two festivals – in fact, I think two festivals is drawing more people to Seagrove. Some people are probably drawn to Seagrove with the notion that they might see some sign of a feud – a feud that doesn’t really exist between the potters. There are always a few publicity hounds in every community and once they have tasted the spotlight, they’ll do anything, say anything, to keep those lights shining on them. It’s not about you, the potters – it’s always going to be about them – your fearless leaders. They are steering the ship and they don’t care where it goes – even a crash on the rocks is good attention for them. You need to start thinking for yourself – what’s good for you and what’s good for your community – not one 50 miles away.

And, finally, I hope the State of North Carolina gets that rest area and welcome center near Seagrove opened on Hwy. 220 (the future I-74) soon. And, I hope it represents the Seagrove area in a true light. There is a big difference between trying to get people to take the next exit and explore and getting them to make a 50 mile detour to Sanford, NC, to see what some people call Seagrove pottery. It’s best to keep politics out of North Carolina’s heritage and cultural offerings. No amount of legislation is going to make Sanford Seagrove or allow Sanford to replace Seagrove. Let Sanford be Sanford and Seagrove be Seagrove.

And, Hwy. 220 (the future I-74) also needs better signage informing folks traveling that road that there are not just area potteries at various exits around Seagrove – it should say that there are over 100 individual potteries in a very small area to explore. A few more words on a sign is not that much more to ask. If it was South Carolina – there would be 30 – 40 massive billboards in a 10 mile stretch. No one wants that, but a few more words on the official highway signs for Seagrove potteries would be better – much better.

PS – Did I win any of the raffles?

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