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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment July 22, 2014

7/16/2013 12:45:00 PM
Quilt show brings color, crowds to Sisters
2013 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon.
Quilt enthusiasts from all around the world converged on Sisters to view the 1,300-plus quilts on display. photo by Gary Miller
+ click to enlarge
Quilt enthusiasts from all around the world converged on Sisters to view the 1,300-plus quilts on display. photo by Gary Miller

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

The action on quilt show day got going early.

Even as an army of volunteers hung the colorful works of art on businesses across the downtown area, strollers were taking in the sights. The crowd grew as the sun climbed into a perfect blue sky, with nary a cloud in sight. The weather was as close to perfect as it could get: Warm but not hot, and no threat of thunderstorms to put the Quilt Rescue Squad on edge.

The atmosphere was relaxed and festive as quilters examined the hangings with a practiced eye, commenting on stitching and use of color. More casual observers simply ooh-ed and ahhh-ed over quits that ranged from the traditional to those that look like paintings.

For many attendees, the quilt show is a tradition that brings friends and family together for an annual pilgrimage.

The Nugget accosted three ladies on Hood Avenue who were all dressed alike in green shirts and broad-brimmed green hats. They hail from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

"You know the Red Hat Ladies?" said Olive Murray. "We're going green."

Asked if this was their first time at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, Trylla Esherick looked


"First time?" she said. "Are you kidding me?"

She displayed her charm necklace that recounted 12 years of attendance at what is the largest outdoor quilt festival in the nation.

Erin Borla, executive director of the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce, noted that the quilt show is a profound experience for many visitors.

"This is a pilgrimage for people," she said. "They save their whole lives to do it. It's a big deal for people. This is my favorite week of the year because people are so happy."

Featured quilter Kristen Shields held court on the lawn at Ponderosa Properties. Shields described her work as "very whimsical, colorful - a lot of fun."

Though she started with traditional quilting through a fascination with Amish quilts, she eventually cast loose her moorings to pursue "liberated quilting" which breaks the bounds of traditional symmetries to explore shape and color.

"I don't like to know what I'm going to end up with in the end," Shields said.

Further up the street, on the peaceful lawn behind Sisters Coffee Co., visitors explored the quilts of "Manland." Many more men are entering the quilting field each year, and this special display reflected their efforts (see related story,

page 5).

The large crowds meant constant activity at many Sisters businesses, activity which actually starts well before show day as quilters hit town for classes in the week leading up to the second Saturday in July.

Melvin's Fir Street Market saw a steady stream of shoppers looking to keep themselves fed and hydrated.

"It means a lot of good business and a lot of fun," said Melvin Herburger. "I love it. It's a lot of extra work, but it's worth it."

Street vendors and non-profit organizations also saw brisk trade at tents set up throughout town. The Furry Friends Foundation hosted a doggie pool to keep pooches cool as many visitors strolled the show with their canine companions. The foundation, which provides pet food for families in need in Sisters Country, was selling raffle tickets for a canine-themed quilt made by Valerie Fercho-Tillery. The quilt will be awarded on Labor Day Weekend, with proceeds from the raffle supporting pet food purchases.

Dennis McGregor sold and autographed copies of his book "Dream Again," a tale of a girl, a quilt and the Oregon Trail - hot off the presses just for quilt show day.

At the east end of town, the Sisters Artists Marketplace was active all weekend on the grounds of the school district administrative offices, with art and craft vendors peddling their wares. Promoter Richard Esterman's show is unaffiliated with the quilt show. He said his hope was to keep activity going in Sisters late into the day and through the entire weekend.

The quilt show itself has expanded its activities, with special Save It For Sunday activities, including a display at FivePine that included quilts not seen in the Saturday show.

Outgoing executive director Ann Richardson estimates that there were approximately 1,400 quilts involved in the show.

Richardson is passing the torch to new Executive Director Jeanette Pilack. As she cruised the show on her signature cruiser bike, Richardson soaked up a lot of thank-yous and kudos. One quilter, dressed literally head to toe in purple, stopped to offer her appreciation.

"You getting lots of pats on the back?" she said. "I'll give you another pat on the back. Atta girl! Way to go!"

Sisters Country Weddings

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