CEDAR LAKES, W.Va. – The Mountain State Art and Craft Fair at Cedar Lakes near Ripley is celebrating a milestone. It all got started 50-years ago during the state’s centennial celebration.

“In 1963, the state created this event to introduce the world to West Virginia’s artisans and craftsmen from around our state,” explained Bob Wines who serves on the fair committee.

The annual event is all about tradition and Wines says that’s never changed. But a lot else has.

“I think there were like six-thousand people there that first year. The fair actually lost money that first year, like 50 dollars in the hole,” said Wines. “But it has grown to a budget of over 200-thousand dollars. We traditionally have 15 to 20-thousand folks during the three-day period.”

The fair kicks off on Thursday, July 4 and runs through July 7. More than 170 juried artists are taking part this year. Ninety percent of them come from West Virginia and 40-some counties are represented.

Wines said not just anyone can participate. The jury considers the item and what went into crafting it, if it will be of value to fair goers and if the artist has enough of an inventory to meet the need of the fair. He stressed it’s all about quality and not just presenting your goods, but showing how they’re made.

“We have folks, at the event, who will be doing those things and teaching others how to continue the traditions of West Virginia,” said Wines.

From weavers to glass blowers, painters to wood carvers, the artists are top notch.

“We’re trying to encourage folks to learn something new, connect with their heritage and see what’s been going on in West Virginia for the last 50-years.”

Wines stressed there’s more than just arts and crafts — there’s a quilt display, food and activities for the kids including kite making/flying classes and volunteers from NASA who will set off some rockets.

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