Community and local maker featured at magazine’s Made in the South Awards

The creative spirit of Asheville is at the forefront of a new partnership between Explore Asheville and Garden & Gun magazine. The year-long collaboration kicked off with an announcement by the magazine that it will bring its esteemed Made in the South Awards celebration to Asheville next fall. The event showcases Southern-made products in six categories: Drink, Food, Home, Style, Outdoors and Crafts.

Over the years, Asheville area makers have garnered eight Made in the South awards including this year’s craft category runner-up Spoon + Hook, a one-woman operation from local Anneliesse Gormley who makes artful wooden wares for the home. Last year, Asheville’s Opie Way received recognition as the overall winner for their sneaker design entry in the Style category.

During this year’s event on Nov. 3, Garden & Gun announced that Asheville will be the location and creative epicenter for next year’s competition, as the official sponsor of the 2022 Made in the South Awards which also aligns with the magazine’s fifteen-year anniversary. The scope of the Explore Asheville and Garden & Gun alliance involves multiple elements aimed at highlighting Asheville’s legacy as a creative hub fueled by makers, artists, craftspeople, artisan food producers and entrepreneurial culture.

“We started the Made in the South Awards over a decade ago as a way to recognize the remarkable talent and creativity of artisans, makers, chefs and designers from across the region and each year are truly wowed by the entries,” says David DiBenedetto, senior vice president and editor in chief of Garden & Gun. “With our magazine’s fifteen-year anniversary kicking off next year we are planning a few new surprises to further highlight the skills and stories of the South’s finest makers with our readers.”

“This collaboration helps us showcase the people and small businesses that foster Asheville’s artistic vibe and inventive soul,” noted Explore Asheville CEO & President Victoria Isley. “Honoring the passion and inspiration of the creative minds in our community is at the heart of this initiative and a key strategy moving forward.”

In addition to promoting and supporting Asheville’s creative spirit, the other key pillars outlined by Explore Asheville are delivering balanced and sustainable growth, encouraging safe and responsible travel, and inviting and engaging more diverse audiences.

As part of this effort, Garden & Gun will feature print and digital components that celebrate Asheville makers and tastemakers while capturing the stories of innovation and imagination that are the backbone of this creative mountain community. This will include four editorial spreads in the magazine throughout the year along with associated digital components.

The award-winning magazine focuses its storytelling on the best of the South while appealing to a nationwide readership of more than a million. Attention by the magazine can be a bonanza for emerging artists and entrepreneurs like Anneliesse Gormley of Spoon + Hook who acknowledges the additional media exposure can open doors to potential new customers.

“From Spoon + Hook’s beginnings in my garage during a life transition to the pages of this iconic platform–it truly feels like a dream.” Gormley stated. “I’m over-the-moon to be recognized amongst this deeply talented group of makers. I am grateful that this opportunity began here in Asheville, such an embracing and encouraging place for the arts, small business, and any and all dreamers.”

Spoon + Hook joins 80 other Asheville area makers featured in Explore Asheville’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide, which will also be featured as part of a Garden & Gun digital extension of the initiative.

 The Asheville digital Gift Guide features a curated list of mountain-made treasures and handmade goods from Asheville artisans, craftspeople and artisan food makers and will be featured on throughout the holiday season. Last year’s guide generated approximately 110,000 web sessions and drove nearly 85,000 clicks to independent businesses and makers.


Kathi M. Petersen, Explore Asheville Director of Public Information