Quilt-lovers reveled in the opportunity to get back out and enjoy the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on Saturday, July 10. The day turned out just about perfect. photo by Jerry Baldock
Quilt-lovers reveled in the opportunity to get back out and enjoy the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on Saturday, July 10. The day turned out just about perfect. photo by Jerry Baldock
“Yeah, baby!”

That was the very first response when The Nugget began its rounds Saturday, asking people on the street attending the Quilt Show if they were enjoying their visit. Throughout the day the answers were similar in immediacy and enthusiasm. Even as the day wore on and the temperatures rose, spirits were universally high.

The traffic through town was manageable, with seven members of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office supervising flow — two on bikes, including Lt. Chad Davis, and three at street crossings. Locals were concerned for the long day in intense heat the deputies would have to endure.

“I told them all to take a bath in sunscreen before their shift,” Davis said with a grin.

Sylvia and Mike D’Amico came all the way from Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

“We know something about quilting back in my neck of the woods,” Sylvia said. “We are close to Amish country, where quilts are legendary. They have a certain sameness about them though, with some outstanding exceptions. What I find in Sisters is a much greater range of style and fabrics, more in touch with your natural surroundings. More expressive storytelling.”

Her husband, Mike, a quilt widower, spent his day with a fly rod on the Metolius River. The couple flew to Salt Lake City, picked up a car and have been fishing and exploring the Pacific Northwest since mid-June. The heat prevailing over the western U.S. almost caused them to cancel their trip, but Sylvia just knew “this year’s show would be exceptional with so many talented quilters housebound for so long.” She was convinced that being “locked up would stir their creative juices.”

The Busy Bees, a quilt group from Clackamas County formed 22 years ago, couldn’t believe their luck in being included in the Show. They did a “mystery quilt” titled “Mystic Meadows.” Of their 70-plus members, 16 participated in the project begun in January of 2020 and finished just days before the Show.

Mystery quilt patterns are group events that illustrate how differently each quilter interprets a pattern from basic clues but without knowing what the final quilt will look like. “Mystic Meadows” was revealed only Saturday morning when all 16 were hung side-by-side in Barclay Park.

The sense of community was palpable as quilters reunited after a 19-month absence.

“I have made so many friends at the Quilt Show and so missed them,” Miki Denton from Snoqualmie, Washington said. “Zoom is no substitute for something so sentient.”

The Nugget spotted license plates from no fewer than 16 states. Carol Dixon of Sisters, the featured quilter of this year’s show, reported a visitor from Burlington, Vermont. Other exhibitors talked about folks from Canada and states on the East Coast.

Ben Pfeiffer from San Jose, a first-timer to Sisters, asked, “Are people always this friendly?” He went on, “Is there a part of town that I’ve missed? It’s just weird how nice everybody is.”

Out-of-state attendees were often apologetic for disrupting the town, assuming that the locals would be glad when they left. Dana Kudlow of Sacramento was gobsmacked when she and her four kids got free hot dogs, popcorn, and snow cones at Hoodoo’s Hillside Ski & Sport Shop.

“Who does that?” she asked in amazement. Her youngest, Colin, age four, asked his mom if they “could stay here forever.”

Dan Portman was one of eight men seated in the shade on the benches outside the Stitchin’ Post. Their spouses were all inside with what appeared to be a hive of quilt lovers. When conversation turned to unseasonably warm temperatures, he responded, “Are you kidding? I just checked back home (Indio, CA) and it was 108 degrees this morning at 8:30. This is heaven.”

Marsha Stiller spoke for her group of eight who caravanned from Santa Barbara for the show.

“We plan a girls’ weekend every year for Sisters, Quilt Show or no Quilt Show,” she said.

She talked about discovering Sisters.

“We first learned about the show from my sister in Minneapolis, who texts me every five minutes wanting more photos of these awesome quilts.”

Ladonna from Sutter Creek, California, said she “dreamed all my life of coming to Sisters. I used to read stories about it in Virtue magazine and I just knew when I started sewing I would find my way here.”

She met up with five friends from Salem and Seattle.

Sunscreen and water were the two hottest items, stores reported. Kara Lappe, owner of SweetEasy Co., was pleased with the steady stream of ice cream seekers. At 2 p.m., now tiring of the street scene, shoppers poured in, with not a table inside or out to be found. The line at Sno Cap was a good block long.

Canvassing the tables at Sisters Saloon, The Nugget did not encounter any guest whose residence was less than 100 miles from town. Up and down Cascade and Hood Avenues locals were having fun tourist-spotting and guessing from where they hailed.