BY JACLYN ROSE –
The Ouachita Arts and Crafts Guild formed in 1988 with the vision to educate, teach and give back to the community. Their goal is to do their part to keep many of the dying arts alive by encouraging and teaching these unique and beautiful trades. A 501c3 non-profit organization, The Ouachita Arts and Crafts Guild is always looking for unique opportunities to give back to Polk County. In the past they have sponsored art scholarships, contributed to local charities such as: Oden House, Tommy Young, Polk County Cancer Support, Clarice’s Room of Hope, and The Humane Society. Additionally, they give an annual donation of baby blankets, bibs, sweaters, caps, booties, quilts and mittens, all handmade, for newborn babies and families in need. This year The Ouachita Arts and Craft Guild’s community donation was given to the Acorn High School Art Department to purchase art supplies.
As long-standing members of the local chamber of commerce, The Ouachita Arts and Crafts Guild is always looking for opportunities to contribute to the local arts. This year they will host a booth at the local Fall Festival to be held in October, and will have Guild Member Cherri Stanberry demonstrating her craft in the booth.
The Ouachita Arts and Crafts Guild currently has 33 club members, two of which are original charter members of the club. They meet the first Wednesday of every month at the Union Bank Community Room at 6 pm to determine what their club needs to contribute to the community in local events and donations, and to swap information, patterns and supplies to their members. The meeting is open to the public and anyone interested in The Guild is welcome to attend.
In addition to their local contributions, the Ouachita Arts and Crafts Guild sponsor the annual Moutainfest Arts and Craft Show. This is their 26th year for the show, which draws in vendors from all over the country and will be held on September 5th and 6th from 9 am to 6 pm at the CMA Campground on Iron Mountain. With spaces still available to rent, the show offers a fun selection of goods, with the only stipulation that everything must be handmade. There will also be wonderful food, a quilt raffle, fun demonstration and hourly giveaways.
In 1993, the Guild opened a retail outlet called The County Store located on Main Street, in 1999 they moved to Highway 71 South and renamed it, Ouachita Craft Cottage. Unfortunately, in 2014 the store closed and the club has made a push to go back to the basics of teaching and preserving fine arts. “I enjoy taking a class because you not only learn something but you get the opportunity to see how someone takes something small and turns it into something beautiful. You get all the information and also you can see the time it takes to create this beauty,” explained Gerry Bailey, Ouachita Arts and Crafts Guild President.
“There are many local people who are proficient in fine crafts that are disappearing, we like to teach those crafts by doing demonstrations,” said Kay Brown, Ouachita Arts and Crafts Guild Treasurer. “Members of our group crochet, create windchimes, knit, quilt, spin, we have candle makers and weavers and many jewelry makers, scrapbookers, those that sew, painters, sculpters, wreath makers, those that make dolls and doll clothes and table runners and soaps and jellies and jams. There are some amazing people in the club, we have so much talent,” said Bailey.