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Sac County sets Quilt-A-Fair

By Staff | Sep 15, 2013

From left, LaRue Schade, Pam Wallace and JoAnne Scharn look over some quilts that will be on display at the upcoming show.

SAC CITY – It may seem that an antique tractor ride has only the most tenuous connection to a quilt show. But in Sac County, the two are closely related.

Barns across the county are dotted with brightly colored squares painted like quilt blocks. This year, a tractor ride will tour some of the barns at the start of the biennial Sac County Quilt-A-Fair, held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 21 and 22 at the Sac County Fairgrounds.

“The whole barn quilt phenomenon is pretty amazing,” said Sue Peyton, publicity chair of the Quilt-A-Fair.

It started with a woman in Ohio about 12 years ago, Peyton said, and has spread across the country, reaching Sac County in 2005.

“Ours was the very first one to go up,” she said, of the decorative square on her historic corn crib.

Sue Peyton, left, helps Pam Wallace fold one of her quilts back up after looking at the piece in her rural Lytton home.

“We’re a very rural county. We have some natural attractions in the lake, at Lake View, and a few other things, but basically it was like let’s flaunt what we’ve got. We’ve got wonderful agriculture, we’ve got some beautiful barns, so let’s throw some quilt blocks on them, and bring more attention to them,” Peyton said.

Registration for the ride is free and will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the fairgrounds. The tractors will roll through Lytton, take a break with snacks and Hagge Park, and then stop for lunch at Black Hawk Lake. The pork producers will be grilling, and freewill donations will be accepted.

A tractor show was added to the Quilt-a-Fair last time, but this is the first time they’ll do a ride, said Jerry Staton, who set up the ride.

“The plan was the men could bring their tractors, and the women could go to their quilt show,” Staton said.

These days tractor owners don’t want shows, he said, they want tractor rides.

Bud Vote, of Sac City, stands next to his fully restored 1956 Chevy at the Keith and Shelli Berry farm. The barn quilt is called State Fair. The car will be on display at the car show on Sunday on the fairgrounds.

“Tractor rides are popular in the state of Iowa,” he said. “You can go to a tractor ride every week if you want to.”

He expects around 75 tractors for the event.

The quilt show started as a way to draw attention to the Sac County Barn Quilts. This year, Peyton said there will easily be around 500 quilts on the fair grounds, including 375 entries by local quilters and 200 to 300 brought by the vendors.

Presentations will go on throughout both days on the stage in the 4-H building. There will be enough demonstrations for visitors to watch all day long if they want, Peyton said.

The featured presenter is Cynthia Hickok, a native of Sac City now living in Texas who has made a name for herself as a fiber artist.

From left, Gene Weitzel, Jerry Staton and Neil Mason pose in front of Mason's restored barn. The barn quilt design is called Blazing Star.

“She uses her sewing machine as a paintbrush,” Peyton said. “She creates a drawing on paper first, then she visualizes what wants to do. She transfers that drawing to some fabric that is dissolvable. She takes her machine and starts stitching.”

Peyton said she’s excited to have Hickok here.

“She’s received any number of international awards. She was one of only five American fiber artists invited to participate in this big triennial exhibition in Lodz, Poland, this summer.”

Hickok will present at 2 p.m. each day. At 11 a.m. each day there will be a display of intricately pieced Judy Niemeyer quilt designs.

“They’re pieced on a foundation of paper,” Peyton said. “That’s what allows them to be so precise.”

Sue Peyton poses with the barn quilt on her family's home farm near Lytton. The design is called Harvest Star.

“One of our local quilters has been experimenting with dying quilts with snow or, in the off-season, she uses ice,” she added. “It makes it a very abstract kind of design. The resulting design of the fabric is like an abstract painting.”

Vendors will also offer scissors sharpening during the show.

In addition to the Sept. 21 tractor ride, a classic car show will be held on Sept. 22.

There is no fee for registration. Judging takes place in the afternoon, with trophies awarded at 3 p.m.

The tractors and cars are to make the even more family-friendly, Peyton said, since not everybody loves quilts.

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