Fiesta frenzy: Ohio Valley dinnerware company marks anniversary in style
NEWELL, W.Va. — It is interesting that The Fiesta Tableware Company decided to name its 2021 color Twilight, considering that people also use that word to describe the start of obscurity and gradual decline.
If anything, the company’s brand of glazed dinnerware is in the height of its popularity with its bright colors and collectibility.
The Fiesta Tableware Company is celebrating that resilience during the month of October, which marks not only 150 years of American craftsmanship as part of the Homer Laughlin China Company, but 85 years since it gave birth to a movement of its own.
Coinciding with its biannual tent sale, The Fiesta Tableware Company has a day of events planned for Friday, Oct. 8 at its Newell location, according to Katie Bricker, director of marketing for The Fiesta Tableware Company.
In addition to music, attendees to their anniversary bash from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. can enjoy a variety of food, games and photo opportunities throughout the day.
A celebration highlight will be ceramic historian Mark Gonzales, who has published books on ware made by both Homer Laughlin and Taylor Smith & Taylor. He will bring a “Fiesta Roadshow” to the celebration, identifying the authenticity and value of select pieces brought by the event guests.
Gonzales, who grew up in Newell, W.Va., has completed 10 research trip to The Fiesta Tableware Company factory and assisted in sorting and identifying pieces from the recently closed Hall China plant in East Liverpool.
The tent sale, which draws a thousand patrons daily, actually kicks off a day earlier. The lines snake around the property for hours and it is serious business, drawing shoppers from as far as Texas and Washington state.
Attendees can shop from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7 through Saturday, Oct. 9 and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10 at Fiesta Tableware Company’s Newell location, 672 Fiesta Drive.
Gonzales understands the appeal, pointing to the vibrancy and cheerfulness of Fiestaware as well as its willingness to adapt to continue to attract mass appeal. “It emits a positive energy, and there is also a sense of nostalgia to it. It has such longevity. You don’t see that with other lines of dinnerware, and that is why it has been a leader in the industry.”
Bricker said Fiestaware will have plenty of giveaways and surprises for visitors during its big day.
This includes everything from Fiesta gift certificates and commemorative pieces as well as line jump passes and tickets for a “Chance Raffle,” which includes a chance at the 150th anniversary vase and a private tour also will be up for grabs.
Currently the company is running an online auction of limited availability Fiesta items, like its highly desired 1997 raspberry glazed bowl, to benefit East Liverpool and Oak Glen high school alumni associations. Featuring a special raspberry glaze to commemorate the 500 millionth piece of Fiesta being produced, the bowl is limited edition and has fetched as much as $5,000 in previous auctions.
The auction, which can be found at biddingforgood.com, had raised $6,914 as of 8 p.m. Thursday with 228 total bids on items ranging from a nine-piece chartreuse Fiesta assortment from their vault to a handprinted painted lady figure that has been labeled “priceless.”
The auction definitely shows off the attraction for Fiesta, which company art director Frederick Rhead had introduced 85 years ago in the hopes of brightening spirits during the Great Depression. It quickly gained favor and continues to be produced in 15 signature shades plus a new special color introduced each year — much like Twilight was in 2021.
The public is invited to come and celebrate this “remarkable milestone,” but Bricker reminds them to observe all COVID safety guidelines including social distancing of 6 feet from others and use of masks indoors. “We are very proud of this, and we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this without our dedicated employees.”