It is rare to find an event that’s been around for an entire century, but that’s the case with the Cherokee Indian Fair. Held annually since 1914, two years earlier, a local fair was held in the Big Cove community that set the stage for a tribal-wide fair. Today’s fair takes place during early October at the Cherokee Fairgrounds in the heart of the Qualla Boundary.
The Cherokee Indian Fair is a showcase for arts and crafts produced by the best of Cherokee’s artisans. The fair’s craft competitions, open only to Cherokee people, provide an opportunity to engage directly with visitors. Arts and crafts on display compete for ribbons given for first, second, and third place. These highly sought-after award ribbons are prized by the makers who receive them.
Historically, the Indian Fair has been an important social gathering in the life of the Cherokee community and a significant draw for tourists. Activities are wide ranging from carnival rides appealing to the young-at-heart to a designated Elders Day. Visitors can take advantage of rows of vendors selling fry bread and purchase some of the best native crafts from the artists themselves.
For many locals, the fair’s highlight is stickball. Fiercely competitive, stickball has long been known as the “Little Brother of War,” a reference to its no-holds-barred play. Other performances include singing, dances, and demonstrations of pottery making, finger weaving, and basket making.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday