The mission of the Albemarle Craftsman’s Guild is to organize artisans and those interested in fine handcrafts for the following purposes: To maintain and improve the quality of crafts produced and sold, to encourage original design, and to promote the continuation and authentic reproduction of earlier crafts.
For more than half a century, hundreds of different artisans have supported that mission by providing a wide range of fine traditional and modern handcrafts to the public through the Albemarle Craftsman’s Guild’s annual Albemarle Craftsman’s Fair, thereby maintaining a heritage of fine craftsmanship in Elizabeth City, NC.
The Albemarle Craftsman’s Fair was born in 1959 through the join efforts of area craftsmen, the Agricultural Extension Service, and the Elizabeth City Chamber of Commerce. The first of the annual events was held in the Dr. Pepper Building in Elizabeth City. Extension agents planned and directed the Fairs until 1963, when trained artisans assumed leadership roles. That same year, the North Carolina legislature visited the Fair, arriving by bus; and in 1967, Fair members were invited to display their crafts at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. The Fair is unique in that it all participating artisans are required to demonstrate some aspect of their craft on site during the show.
Home Demonstration Club members, now known as Extension and Community Association, have been a sponsor of the Fair through the years, providing on-site food at early Fairs and continuing to serve as volunteers and hostesses today. At present the Albemarle Craftsman’s Fair is totally operated by volunteers, but it continues to have educational support from the Extension when needed.
Guild members are selected through a jury process and continue to be challenged to further their development of skills and creativity for the duration of their membership in the organization. Current and past Guild participants have ranged from 18 to 107 years of age and represent all educational levels and walks of life. There is no age or geographical limit to membership.
Through years of change, the Guild has maintained a tradition of pride in workmanship; and the future of the Albemarle Craftsman’s Fair is rooted in the idea that quality is its own reward, and that beautiful creations from skilled hands are timeless in value.