The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

July 17, 2014

Quilt show returns to arts & crafts fair

A familiar event plans to return to the Appalachian Festival Aug. 22-24.

Although quilts hung from above the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center floor last year, they were not part of a judged quilt show. This year, they will be once again. In fact, it will mark the 40th year the Appalachian Treasures Quilt Show is a part of the annual festival’s arts and crafts event.

A steering committee comprised of local quilters says it is thrilled the quilt show is returning to the festival. They are seeking entries, volunteers to take shifts during the show and donations of baby quilts that will be donated to families in need. They are also inviting interested quilters to attend a free seminar on Aug. 21.

“Everyone here feels like the quilt show was really missed last year,” said Judith Bragg, a steering committee member. “It gives the convention center the atmosphere the festival needs, and people have come to expect it.”

In a way, the quilt show has served as a sort of thread that winds its way through and connects all the many pieces — quilting blocks, if you will — that make up the Appalachian Festival. Other events include A Taste of Appalachia, special area tours, a car show, and the long-running arts and crafts fair with its many vendors.

As part of that arts and crafts fair, The Appalachian Treasures Quilt Show showcases the traditional art of quilting and decorates the convention center.

“Quilting is a part of our culture, said committee member Margaret McNeely, “but we’ve also seen many changes within it over the years. Some quilters have moved away from the traditional quilts to art quilts.”

“And the equipment has changed over the years,” added Bragg, “we’ve gone from cardboard stencils to rotary cutters.”

“Quilting has gone from being a necessity item to a means of self-expression. It’s done for pleasure. It’s done for health reasons,” McNeely said. “It even has been shown to lower blood pressure.”

Whether the quilt is an example of old-time necessity, folk tradition, modern art or just plain fun, one good thing about the show is that there is a category for every type of quilt and usually a story to go with it. In fact, entrants are asked to write explanations of their entries for viewers to read when they see the quilts.

To help celebrate 40 years, the quilt show, themed “Memories,” will feature a ruby red color category. The year’s featured block theme will be churn dash, also known as monkey wrench.

But those categories aren’t the only ones seeking entrants. In all, judges will consider quilts in 17 categories, making the returning annual event one of the region’s largest.

Not only will the show display traditional and modern art quilts, it will give contestants an opportunity to sell their work and receive cash prizes. An entry fee of $5 per item is required, and participants must pre-register by Aug. 1.

Entry forms, a list of categories, and rules and regulations are available through the Appalachian Festival Web site, www.appalachianfestival.net, by clicking “downloads.” Or call Judith Bragg at 304-763-3619 or Margaret McNeely at 304-253-0853.

Those same two numbers should also be used by quilt-lovers interested in volunteering for two- to three-hour shifts during the show.

Another part of celebrating 40 years will be the quilt show’s Warm Hugs project, explained committee member Marsha Smith, who is also a member of the Hands All Around Quilt Guild.

“It’s something our guild has been doing for several years, and now we’re asking other quilters to donate 36-by-36 (inch) or 48-by-48 (inch) baby quilts for us to give to Raleigh General Hospital,” Smith said.

The donated baby quilts, which must be actual quilts and not fleece or felt, will be displayed at the show before they are given to the hospital. (Donated quilts are eligible for judging only if they have been registered in the baby category.)

“It just seems like a nice way to celebrate 40 years,” Smith said.

Finally, to celebrate, the Appalachian Treasures Quilt Show will be offering a free quilting seminar to interested participants Aug. 21 at 1 p.m., also at the convention center. Barbara A. Jones, a Granville, W.Va., quilter, will present “Off the Wheel,” a workshop presentation which focuses on color concepts.

Pre-registration is strongly recommended; call 304-763-3619 or 304-253-0853.

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