Fire on the Mountain Festival returns Saturday

SPRUCE PINE — The annual Fire on the Mountain Blacksmithing Festival brings blacksmiths from around the country to the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Organized by Spruce Pine Main Street, thousands of people attend the event, which takes place from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, April 30, on Locust Street.

Libby Phillips, director of Spruce Pine Main Street, said the festival is important because it’s unique to the area and highlights a craft that has a deep heritage in the community and region. 

“Celebrating that is important,” she said.

Phillips said another positive aspect of the festival is that it brings together an eclectic crowd of people. 

“The talent will blow you away,” she said. 

Artists make everything from earrings to sculptures.

The Hands on Tent, sponsored by Penland School of Crafts, will allow people of all ages to try their hand at the art of blacksmithing with assistance from an experienced blacksmith. 

The festival’s master blacksmith this year is Jay Burnham-Kidwell, who has taught at Penland and the Appalachian Center for Craft, as well as other craft schools. His work has been exhibited in 155 state, local, national and international exhibitions. 

Other blacksmiths at the festival will include Gary Noffke and Paige Davis. Noffke is noted for his technical versatility and his pioneering research into hot forging. Davis studied at Penland and is known for her sculptural forged ironwork. 

Noffke has a 10 a.m. demonstration, Burnham-Kidwell will demonstrate at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and Davis will demonstrate at 1 p.m.

Blacksmiths will be selling their wares and demonstrating at their individual booths.

A feature unique to the event is the Bardhouse, where attendees can hear spoken word poetry about blacksmithing on demand.

This year, the second annual forging contest is a “Snake-Off” competition where participants will be given a rod of iron and will have one hour and minimal tools to create their best snake for a chance to win a prize basket. 

The TRAC gallery on Oak Avenue will be showcasing its current exhibit honoring the work of blacksmiths from the Southeast and beyond. 

Blacksmith tool vendors will also be hand selling tongs, as well as handheld and power hammers. 

There will also be a Master Blacksmith Demonstration Workshop from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, April 29, and a free lecture by Jay Burnham-Kidwell at 8 p.m. Saturday. Both events will take place at Penland. Advance reservations are required. Email Stacey Lane at staceylane@penalnd.org for more information.

In 2007, a small, local festival called Hammerin’ on the Toe officially became known as Fire on the Mountain. Today, Fire on the Mountain, which honors both traditional and contemporary artists, has grown from a handful of local blacksmiths to one of the largest blacksmith events on the east coast.

Spruce Pine Main Street is nonprofit. Its mission is to promote and enhance downtown Spruce Pine. 

The MItchell News

Mailing Address: PO Box 339 
Spruce Pine, NC 28777 
Phone: 828-765-7169
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