A Sense of Community
Susan Dietrick, chairperson of the 2009 Lampasas show, poses in front of a wall quilt depicting the Lampasas County Courthouse, made by Lampasas quilter Ruby Wolfe in 1980. The quilt won 3rd place at the State Fair of Texas that year.
All proceeds from the show benefit the Keystone Square Museum and its programs.
Fay Mullins, Joan Milan, Martha Green, and Ann Hughes man the bake sale table. In the background is a 1930s-era Postage Stamp quilt featuring half-inch pieces made by Buena Vista Cox.
With the evolution of mega quilt shows such as International Quilt Festival during the past three decades, quilts and quilting have achieved unprecedented recognition. People are drawn by the thousands from all over the world to see the amazing exhibits and marvel at the sophistication and creativity on display in such profusion. These large gatherings have become so common that we are no longer shocked to hear that 50,000 or more people may pack the huge George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston to see quilts.
With shows of such magnitude now prevalent, it can be easy to forget that it was not always so. The truth is that quilt shows on a far more modest scale are regularly held in communities all across the nation. The attendance may be substantially smaller, the venues more compact, and the exhibits less expansive, but fine workmanship and beautiful quilts can still be found in abundance. Quite often, these community quilt shows serve the additional function of attracting an audience in order to raise funds for some local charitable purpose.
One such quilt show has been held annually in Lampasas, Texas (population 6,800) for the past 32 years. It is housed in the lovely old Second Empire-style county courthouse that graces the town square. Lampasas has a lot of charm, with interesting architecture, friendly people, Texas Hill Country scenery, and some wild-west history (the place had its fair share of outlaws in the early days, and it is even said that Jesse James’ brother, Frank, operated a leather store there at one time), adding to its allure.
Lampasas also has a lot of people who are dedicated to preserving the town’s heritage and the focus of their efforts is the Keystone Square Museum, which holds collections that reflect the history of the area. Raising money to support the museum is the purpose of the Lampasas Quilt Show. In addition to the quilts on display, there is always a raffle quilt and a bake sale. All proceeds benefit the museum and its programs, and for over three decades the show has been a success.
All this got me to pondering what it is about quilts in particular that seems to draw people together in ways that other things cannot. Quilts are people magnets—a fact that is not lost on community leaders who need a lure to attract a crowd. Who doesn’t want to see quilts, long to touch them, to buy a chance in order to possibly win one? Aside from the visual, the tactile, and the material, however, there is an intangible something else about quilts as well. I believe it has to do with emotion.
Any time a quilt gets made, be it by an individual or a group, a lot of emotion goes into the process—joy in the aesthetic decisions that are made, patience (and frustration) in the time and effort required, and relief and satisfaction in its completion. As often as not, a quilt is intended for someone besides its maker, and there are emotions that arise both from the giving and the receiving end of that equation.
And then there are the emotions triggered by memory in just looking at a quilt: a mother, a wedding, a baby, a time of comfort, the sorts of personal remembrances most of us have that provide a sense of continuity and connection with the past. All of those things, and more, combine to make the quilt an attraction that few can resist.
And that brings me back to Lampasas. I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Lampasas Quilt Show on several occasions throughout the years, and each time I am impressed with the way that the whole town seems to get involved with the show. People work together for a common goal, share the effort, and take pride in their accomplishment. That’s another emotion that quilts can elicit: a sense of community. And really, that’s what community quilt shows are all about, after all.
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Column 141: Tom Korn’s Military Medal Quilts
Column 140: The Return of Double Knits!
Column 139: Passage Quilts
Column 138: Home of the Brave Quilts
Column 137: The Story of Fabric Yo-Yos
Column 136: Christmas in July
Column 135: Trifles
Column 134: Deaf Initiatives—Communicating Through Quilts
Column 133: My Betty Boop Quilt
Column 132: Maura Grace Ambrose
Column 131: All You Need Is Love
Column 130: Chicken Linens
Column 129: The Quilted Chuppah
Column 128: Patchwork Around the World: Yoruba Dance Costumes
Column 127: The Bowers Co-Op Quilts
Column 126: Fon Appliqué and Haitian Voodoo Flags
Column 125: The Quilt Garden at The North Carolina Arboretum
Column 124: Harriet Powers and Handful’s Mauma
Column 123: Quilters de Mexico
Column 122: An Appliquéd Surprise
Column 121: Matisse’s Fabric Stash
Column 120: Soogan—The Cowboy’s Quilt
Column 119: The Ron Swanson Quilt
Column 118: HClarkdale, Georgia—A Thread of History
Column 117: How WWI Changed the Color of Quilts in the United States
Column 116: Wagga—The Bushman’s Quilt
Column 115: All in the Family
Column 114: The Alabama State Quilt
Column 113: Balloon Quilts of Albuquerque
Column 112: The Family That Quilts Together, Stays Together
Column 111: Two Rivers, Three Sisters
Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
Column 109: Community Cookbooks and Fundraiser Quilts—Parallel Histories
Column 108: Quilting to Freedom
Column 107: National Quilting Day
Column 106: The Airing of the Quilts
Column 105: A Call for a National Juneteenth Commemorative Quilt
Column 104: Dominoes
Column 103: 1936 Texas Centennial Bluebonnet Quilt
Column 102: Helen Blackstone, A Texas Quilter
Column 101: Montana CattleWomen Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
Column 99: Montana Stockgrowers Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 98: The Tobacco Sack Connection
Column 97: Meet the Sisters Who Are State Fair Quilting Queens
Column 96: The connection between fairs and quilts.
Column 95: Her Mother Pieced Quilts
Column 94: Rebecca Barker’s Quiltscapes
Column 93: The Thread and Thimble Club Mystery
See other archived columns here