The Quilt Scout
by Mary Fons
1982 Festival Memories
MOM: Hi, honey.
ME: When I was home in Iowa last week, you gave me something amazing. Can you tell the folks what it was?
MOM: I uncovered a Quilt Festival Admission form from 1982. (click for full size image) I knew when I ran across it you'd find it fascinating.
ME: It’s wonderful: an artifact from the early days of the quilt industry. It’s also a piece of our family history, in a way.
MOM: You were three years old in 1982; your baby sister Rebecca was born that year in July. I remember I wanted to go to Festival so badly, I wound up taking Rebecca—a nursing baby—with me. Quilt Market and Quilt Festival have been in October for so long now, it's easy to forget that wasn't always the case; I didn't recall that Festival took place in December in 1982.
ME: I always knew when Quilt Market was because it was at Halloween. I have all this emotional baggage because you were always gone for trick o’ treating. I was a Halloween-deprived kid.
MOM: Sorry, sweetie. I had to put food on the table.
ME: It’s okay. Nothing tens of thousands of dollars of therapy can’t take care of.
MOM: Mary, you shouldn’t say that. What if it doesn’t come across that you’re joking? People will think I’m a terrible parent.
ME: It’s clear to everyone who watches you and me on Love of Quilting that you are not a terrible parent—but I’m still going to therapy. So, how do I read this form?
MOM: The yellow card got you into what you paid for; the door-checkers just looked to make sure the particular event was not crossed out. The crossed-off classes are crossed off because I did not take them.
ME: Well, you couldn’t go to everything. You had to go nurse Rebecca.
MOM: Rebecca was probably being cared for by her Houston grandparents while I went to special events. With a nursing baby, I would not have attempted to attend an all-day class—and I probably couldn't have afforded it.
ME: Money was tight back then, for sure. Hard times. I have a lot of emotional baggage because of—
MOM: Do you really have that much emotional baggage?
ME: No more than anyone else who never got to go trick o’ treating with her famous quilter mother. What’s that stuff at the bottom of the form?
MOM: Well, you can see that several of the special events I got to go to were free. Note also the neat stuff I got for my registration fee: a Quilt Festival tote bag, free repeat admission to the exhibits, free participation in the "Patchwork Premier and Melodrama”—
ME: What was that?
MOM: I can’t remember now, but I’m sure it was great. I could go to the big Show & Tell, too, all for $62.
ME: Even accounting for inflation, that is a lot of good stuff for the price. What’s the deal with the “grand ballroom” in the box at the top left? Please tell me there was a princess ball.
MOM: Market and Festival were both held in an opulent room at the beautiful Shamrock Hilton hotel, long torn down now. No tiaras as far as I know.
ME: It must have been thrilling to be at Festival in ‘82. It was the eighth one ever! There was so much being built, studied, created. It was the beginning of so much. I love seeing a glimpse of that. I was just three years old back then. I wonder what I was doing while you were away.
MOM: Sleeping, probably.
ME: And missing you terribly. Good thing I have a therapist now and—
ME: Thanks for the card and the interview, Mama.
MOM: You’re welcome, honey.
Marianne Fons’ 1982 Quilt Festival Admission Card