The Townsend Artisan Guild, Townsend, TN, will host its seventh annual Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival, to be held at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend, April 15 – 17, 2016.


The event will again offer its popular vendors marketplace; family activities; live animal displays; fiber arts demonstrations; and classes for beginners through advanced fiber enthusiasts. General admission is free, though classes require a fee. In addition, pre-registration for classes is requested and is now open (visit event website, link below.)


Hours for the event are 9 am to 5 pm on Friday and Saturday (April 15 and 16), and 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday (April 17).


Classes are offered for beginning through advanced levels, and include weaving, crocheting, needle felting, nuno felting, rug hooking, twining, yarn dyeing, and much more, including the popular spinning classes by Jennifer Bennett of Harmony Wools Alpacas, Sweetwater, TN. Over forty classes are offered, with new classes added for 2016.  Details, including vendor and class lists, and how to register for classes, may be found on the event website,


The featured instructor for 2016 is Geri Forkner. Her mixed media fiber art is defined by lifelong passions to make one of everything and to save materials from the global scrapheap. She learned the “usual” fiber processes from her grandmother but settled on being the only female in engineering class when her father insisted “Craft” was not a good enough career. Now with the addition of wearable technology, Geri’s work has come full circle as she strives to make beautiful insightful pieces using skills she polished along the way. Her work is represented in

museum collections in New York, Atlanta, and West Point Military Academy.  She recently had shows in Houston, TX, in Bangkok, and at McGhee Tyson Airport here in East Tennessee. Geri is a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and is a nationally known artist and teacher who works with both children and adults. Her creativity is contagious, and her students are always inspired to think outside the box. Visit her website:


During the 2016 festival in Townsend, demonstrations will again be available for adults and children to explore the various techniques of working with fibers. The demonstrators will help the beginner identify where to begin, and help resolve questions of the more experienced fiber enthusiast. Scheduled children’s activities include weaving, clay modeling, and llama walks.  In addition, many of the fiber arts classes are suitable for ages 12 and above.


Russell and Sherry Liles of Liles Acres Organic Farms, Maryville, TN, will return with their llamas, goats, and Angora rabbits.


Roger and Rosalyn Fanti and their three children of Saddle Brook Farm, Dandridge, TN will also be back with their sheep and will share the processes of raising the sheep, to shearing.  This makes the festival truly a “sheep to shawl” event, showing the entire process from fleece to fiber to threads and yarn, to finished goods.


Questions and inquiries may be addressed by contacting the Townsend Artisan Guild at or by calling 865-448-0859.


The Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival, presented by the Townsend Artisan Guild, is made possible through the generosity of the following sponsors: Tennessee Valley Handspinners Guild, Greater Knoxville Arts and Culture Alliance, the Tennessee Arts Commission, Blount Partnership, and Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center.