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 78: Ollie Steele Burden’s Quilt Blocks
Column 77: Quilting with AMD
Column 76: Maverick Quilts and Cowgirls
Column 75: The Modern Quilt Guild—Cyberculture Quilting Ramps Up
Column 74: The Membership Quilt—Czech Quilting in Texas
Column 73: Maximum Security Quilts
Column 72: Author: Terri Thayer
Column 71: The Christmas Quilt
Column 70: New Mexico Centennial Quilt
Column 69: Scrub Quilts
Column 68: “Think Pink” Quilt Raises Funds for Rare Cancer Research
Column 67: Righting Old Wrongs.
Column 66: 100 Years, 100 Quilts - More on the Arizona Centennial.
Column 65: Arizona Centennial Quilt Project
Column 64: Capt. John Files Tom’s Family Tree
Column 63: The Fat Quarters
Column 62: Quilt Fiction Author: Clare O’Donohue
Column 61: Louisiana Bicentennial Quilt
Column 60: The Camo Quilt Project.
Column 59: Thread Wit
Column 58: Ralli Quilts
Column 57: Preschool Quilters
Column 56: The Story Quilt
Column 55: Red and Green Quilts
Column 54: On the Trail
Column 53: Quilt Trail Gathering
Column 52: True Confessions: First Quilt
Column 51: Quilted Pages
Column 50: Doll Quilts
Column 49: More Than a Quilt Shop
Column 48: Las Colchas of the Texas-Mexico Border
Column 47: Literary Gifts
Column 46: A Different Way of Seeing
Column 45: Sampling
Column 44: Hen and Chicks
Column 43: A Star Studied Event
Column 42: Shoo
Column 41: Awareness Quilts
Column 40: Tivaevae
Column 39: UnOILed UnspOILed Coast Quilt Project
Column 38: Katrina Recovery Quilts
Column 37: Quilted Vermont
Column 36: The Labyrinth Quilt—A Meditative Endeavor
See other archived columns here