We got off to a very early start yesterday, up before dawn, on our way to the annual Prairie Strippers sewing day. We are definitely "regulars", as this is our sixth year of vending and teaching classes at the event.
Wesley stopped for a minute to capture this image of the breathtaking sunrise, as the morning dew evaporated from the low areas.
Around 7:30, he arrived at the Dupree Pioneer Hall with our "traveling quilt shop".
Our trailer and SUV were packed to the brim with a vast array of quilts and merchandise. Guild members met him at the door, ready to help. By the time Laurie-Ann, Barb, & I arrived at 8am, he was unpacked and setting up for the day.
This year the guild had record attendance. Around 65 quilters (many traveled quite a distance) registered for classes, and generous guild members served as hostesses, organizers, and lunchroom volunteers. Five classes took place simultaneously in a large open room. The sounds of sewing machines, class discussions, lunchtime preparations, and laughter created a sense of warmth and companionship. It's was a modern version of a "quilting bee".
The smell of fresh coffee, homemade donuts, and fresh fruit wafted from the kitchen in the early morning. Lunchtime treats included delicious salads & sandwiches, and a variety of cookies & bars. Everything was homemade, from the buns to the pickles. Many vegetables were homegrown. And, by mid-afternoon, we were eating again.... coffee, bars... and more of those melt in your mouth donuts.
Just after classes started, the power flickered, then snapped off. We initially assumed it was a quilter's problem... too many irons, too many sewing machines. But, we quickly found out that the entire region was without power, and it might be hours before it could be restored. Undeterred, the students cut their fabrics in the sunshine, and we held an impromptu trunk show & demo outside in the fresh morning air.
A show & tell followed the classes: a breathtaking display of creativity and artistry. Two guilt members climbed upon a picnic table, and carefully held each quilt up high so everyone could see. From beginners to experts, the guild members and their guests shared their finished projects (and some "almost finished" ones), and spoke about their significance. Graduation quilts, wedding quilts, baby quilts, memory quilts, show quilts, quilts from classes they took, and quilts they can't bear to give away. In the process, we heard snippets of family news.. a new grandbaby... a fall wedding deadline... empty nest... a teenage granddaughter interested in quilting.
In many ways, the day reminded me of a family reunion. A very close knit group of women, from different generations, unfailingly supportive of each other, simply radiating with kindness, generosity, talent, and creativity. No "quilt guild politics" in this group... just the usual "family stuff."
Wesley & I go to a lot of retreats, quilt shows, and guild events. We can honestly say that we have never had a bad experience, and each one is memorable in it's own way. We are always impressed with hospitality of our regional quilt guilds, and the immense amount of effort it takes to organize activities for quilters.
We drove home in the dark last night, tired from the long day, achy from the hard work, and munching on the homemade sandwiches the kitchen gals kindly wrapped up for us.
It was the "Best Quilt Day, Ever."