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Meriwether Lewis Arts and Crafts Show Relocated Due to Governement Shut Down--Mikayla Lewis

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LEWIS COUNTY, Tenn.--The government shut down closed federal parks across the states, including Meriwether Lewis Historic Site. The 42nd annual Meriwether Lewis Arts and Crafts Show was forced to relocate this year. 

The show's project director, Abby Forsythe said, "We're still rockin' and rollin' because we don't want to have a gap in our years."

A variety of 50 craftsmen and vendors were at the fair this weekend, after going through a committee review to sell their products. 

Show volunteer, Sarah Kennedy said, " A lot of festivals are commercialized. You have lots of cheaply made products that are mass produced overseas and are festival is unique because everything is artisan and handmade, crafted here... a lot of it locally."

Forsyth added, "It gives a good base for people from all over the south to come not only show their talent, their wares to help make a living but it also exposes people to the area and the history behind the area." 

But this year the event itself was almost history. On October 1st, organizers found out the government was shutting down the Meriwether Lewis site. The historic place is where Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark, died and was buried. 

Show vendor and former director, Don Stockton said, "We were worried  before I talked to Abby, and was wondering if we would be able to have it or would it be cancelled." 

The events parking lot owners offered their property to hold the entire show this year. It is located half a mile down from the original site, on Natchez Trace Parkway. 

 Forsyth said, "This is a big draw for this area every year and it's a shame that we're missing out on the history that is provided by the park service when we have the show in the park." 

Visitor, Paula Hepp said, "The park experience is much better but they were able to find this spot and it works for the interim." 

Organizers also faced getting the word out in time about the relocation. The craft show drew slightly less than it's average 12,000-14,000 visitors. 

Sarah Kennedy said, "The community rallying behind us has been really inspiring.. we've been at this 42 years now and we hope to make it 42 more."

The Meriwether Lewis Arts and Crafts Show organizers hope to hold the event at the original site next year. 

Follow Mikayla Lewis on Twitter @MikaylaFox17

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