By Wendi Tunny

Christmas is fast approaching, and that means the hunt is on for holiday decorations and memorable gifts for your loved ones. This year, why not treat yourself to a scenic shopping spree in the Great Smoky Mountains? Take in the stunning colors of autumn, sample the local culture, and bring home a bounty of unique gifts from the one-of-a-kind Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair.

A 36-Year Tradition of Excellence

For nearly four decades the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair has enchanted visitors with its rich variety of fine art, local music, food, and family fun. Known for its strict entrance requirements, this semiannual event showcases some of the finest artists from around the country, giving you the opportunity to uncover unexpected treasures for everyone on your shopping list.

This year’s artists include potter David Howard, whose creations are inspired by the traditional pottery of the 19th century. You’ll find classic pieces no kitchen should be without, such as pie plates, soup mugs, and lidded casseroles. Best of all, these works of art are as functional as they are beautiful. Imagine filling your home with the sweet scent of homemade apple pie, baked in a one-of-a-kind earthenware pie plate you purchased in Gatlinburg. You’ll serve each piece with a generous helping of fond vacation memories.

More Than Just a Craft Show

One feature of the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair that keeps visitors returning year after year is the openness of the exhibitors. Not only do they offer their works for sale, they’re also on hand to demonstrate their art and share their techniques with you. You’ll watch as jewelers, painters, wood carvers and more create amazing works of art, all the while explaining their methods and offering tips to the onlookers.

If you’ve ever wondered how to finish a quilt with a razor edge, or construct a stained-glass lamp, or even tie a straw broom, then the Craftsmen’s Fair is right where you want to be this October. The wide variety of specialties represented at the fair means everyone in your family will find something to fascinate and entertain, and who knows? You might even come home with a new favorite hobby.

Not only will you be delighted by all the gorgeous artwork at the Craftsmen’s Fair, you’ll get a taste of mountain life through the music of local bluegrass musicians. Keith Longbotham & Band, and other favorites will perform daily, bringing the history and culture of the area to life through music.

Celebrate Autumn in the Great Smoky Mountains

While you’re in town, don’t miss the opportunity to take in the stunning scenery of the mountains in autumn. Soar above the treetops on the Ober Gatlinburg aerial tram, take a relaxing hike through the peaceful trails of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or simply enjoy the vibrant colors from the back porch of a cabin in the woods.

One thing is sure: Whether you come for the scenery or the crafts, Gatlinburg TN in October is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Pack up the family and head to the Great Smoky Mountains for an unforgettable holiday shopping trip, and you’ll return home with memories that last a lifetime.

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Need a place to stay during your getaway? Wendi Tunny of Bear Run Falls offers affordable luxury cabins in Pigeon Forge within walking distance to Dollywood. Visit © 2011, All Rights Reserved