The fascination that people have for both the historical quality and the artistic flare of quilts was obvious at this year’s Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild of Tennessee Quilt show and Competition. Quilt show event chair Ann Rushing helped to organize the event held on the weekend of March 19-20.
For the first time in 30 years, the event was held on Maryville College’s campus. Organizers and Blount County are hoping the competition will return to Maryville.
“The turn out (this year) was better than the last three years. We had around 1,650 for our visitor count. It was a big improvement,” said Rushing.
According to Deb DiPietro, who helped organize the volunteers for the event, the average count of the past has been around 1,400. Visitors were admitted for a ticket of $5 and were free to visit the 18 vendors or listen in on the “bed-turnings.”
Internationally known Merikay Waldvogel was present to conduct the “bed-turning” events. Waldvogel was inducted into the International Quilters Hall of Fame in 2009.
“The bed-turnings were in a large separate room. It was so well attended, that the first time Merikay spoke, it was standing room only,” Rushing said. “She had planned to do it only once on Friday and once on Saturday, but because of the turn out, she ended up doing it twice on Saturday.” She said.
A typical bed-turning is when a quilter discusses the qualities and designs of specific quilts. According to Rushing and DiPietro, the bed-turning that Waldvogel presented was unique because Waldvogel is a quilt historian.
“This year, she used quilts from her own collection,” said Rushing. “She identifies the name of the quilt, such as a Wedding Ring, Texas Star and Log Cabin, for example.”
Rushing said, “Merikay then tells stories about the quilt and about who made them. She knows so much more of the history behind the quilt. That’s the reason for her induction into her hall of fame. We are so fortunate to have her in the guild,” Rushing added.
For this year’s competition event, the Quilters of Tennessee brought in judge Mary Stori. A total of 45 quilts from other states were delivered to be judge, as well. All of the quilts are actually judged two weeks prior to the show.
The quilts are divided into several different categories and awards were given within those categories. Stori would then talk about each quilt individually, using comments on the judging sheets, would discuss what she liked, and if she awarded the quilt a ribbon.
A total of $5,000 was awarded to prizewinners. Although there were several winners in all of the differing categories, Rushing said that the two most worth mentioning were the winner of Best of Show-Wall Quilt and Best of Show-Bed Quilt.
First prize in the Best of Show-Wall Quilt was won by Leona Harden of New Tazewell. Her quilt was called “Serengeti at Twilight.”
First in Best of Show-Bed Quilt was a quilt by Linda Roy of Knoxville, for her quilt called “Vintage Button Bouquet.”
According to Rushing, several ladies of the quilter’s guild donated small quilts for fundraising to support the event. The donated 45, 36x36 sized quilts.
“We were very pleased with the layout (of the event),” said Rushing. “We have heard nothing but positive comments from our members, who have followed us to several shows and locations. We’ve also heard many positive comments from people who have attended in the past. They all loved the space and the facilities that Maryville College offered,” she said.