By Collins Maroa
The third annual Cleburne County Pottery show was held this past Saturday at Jacksonville State University’s Cleburne County Mountain Center in Heflin. The show was held to display the unique pottery that exists in Cleburne County.
There were close to 200 people in attendance, and Pete Conroy, director of the JSU Environmental Policy and Information Center (EPIC) called it a great success. He also said that preparations for 2017’s pottery show were already underway and that it looked promising. This was the highest attendance number since the show’s unveiling in 2014.
In attendance this week was Joey Brackner of the Alabama State Council on the Arts and author of “Alabama Folk Pottery.” Mr. Brackner went into detail on the rich history of Northern Alabama pottery and echoed Conroy’s sentiments that, “[p]ottery in northeast Alabama is unique and full of history.”
Members of the public were encouraged to bring in the different kinds of pottery that they had in their household for study. The reason for this, as explained by Conroy, was to enlighten residents in the area on the importance of the pottery they had in their possession.
“Not too many people realize the amount of history that is within the pottery that they have,” Conroy said.
As for all the pottery collectors around the area, they were allowed to buy from others and sell whatever they had for sale. The pottery professionals were full of excitement as they studied the displayed pieces of art from jugs to flower vases all made in different pottery styles.
The professionals included contemporary potters Mike Williamson and Bobby Gaither who also sold some of their works.
Despite the obvious success of this year’s event, Conroy told the Chanticleer that the biggest challenge in planning and hosting the event was acquiring new audiences.
“Getting new audiences every year has been a big challenge to us because not too many people even know that JSU has an environmental center in Heflin,” Conroy said.
He also stressed on how important it was for Cleburne County residents to gather with others in Alabama and as a whole, learn the history of pottery in the state and its significance in the area.
The JSU Cleburne County Mountain Center was opened in 2012 and according to the Mountain Center Facebook page, it is, “a partnership between Jacksonville State University and Cleburne County.”
The aim was to provide diverse educational programs in the region. The facility is open to the public on weekdays from 8 a.m to 4:30 p.m.
Planning for 2017’s Fourth Cleburne County Pottery Show is already underway, and Conroy expressed that he was hopeful that next year’s show would even be bigger and better.
“Hopefully we can get more people to know about pottery in the area and gain interest in it,” Conroy said.