Honoring the past
SAC CITY – Every quilt tells a story, especially the Civil War quilts that were showcased at the 2015 Sac County Quilt-a-Fair in Sac City.
“We featured Civil War quilts in honor of the 150th anniversary of the end of that war,” said Atoya Oliver, chair of the Sac County Quilters. “There were almost 20 quilts entered in the show that featured quilt patterns or fabrics similar to those used in the 1800s.”
The Civil War quilts were among nearly 300 quilts on display during the Quilt-a-Fair, which was held in two buildings at the Sac County Fairgrounds Sept. 26-27.
More than 1,000 visitors from across Iowa and beyond viewed quilted miniatures, wall hangings, table quilts, bed quilts, baby quilts, vintage/antique quilts, holiday quilts and patriotic quilts, in addition to the Civil War quilts.
In addition, guests could also shop for fabric, patterns and quilting supplies from the 20 vendors who participated in the event.
The 2015 Quilt-a-Fair also included a show-and-shine car show, classic tractor ride and show, a Sac City Airport fly-in event and tours of the Sac County Barn Quilts.
“There’s something of interest to see for everyone who visits the Sac County Quilt-a-Fair,” said Sue Peyton, a Sac City-area quilter who has helped organize the event since the first Quilt-a-Fair was held in 2007.
Civil War quilt
Few authentic Civil War quilts have survived during the last century and a half. Quilts made for soldiers were simply worn out, plus soldiers were often buried in their quilts. That’s why Quilt-a-Fair organizers were thrilled when one of the entries in the 2015 Sac County Quilt-A-Fair turned out to be a quilt made during the Civil War era.
“When Marvel Stout of Sac City called and talked with me about an old family quilt she owned, I had no idea it would be such a special quilt that was actually hand-pieced and hand-quilted during the mid to late 1800s,” Peyton said. “We are so appreciative that Marvel was willing to share this historical quilt during the Quilt-A-Fair.”
When Stout read about the Quilt-a-Fair, she thought about the family quilt she owned. She hadn’t looked at it for a very long time, so she searched through a box of old linens, where the quilt was stored.
She carefully removed the tissue paper from around it and checked over the quilt.
“She worried about whether it was in good enough shape to display it, but she decided to enter it because her aunt, Anna Kenyon, who gave the quilt to Marvel, was so appreciative of sharing her family heritage with others,” Peyton said.
The 1800s-era quilt was made by Stout’s ancestor, Lettie Clark. Stout represents the eleventh generation descended from Thomas Clark, who arrived on the Mayflower. Her other ancestors include Fred Clark, who migrated from Ohio and married his wife, Lettie, in Clinton County.
The couple later moved to the Wall Lake/Lake View area.
“When I first saw Marvel’s quilt, I was struck by the similarity of the colors and designs of its fabrics to the Civil War replica fabrics we have available to us in 2015,” Peyton said. “We carefully displayed this authentic Civil War era quilt during our show, surrounded by the new quilts made from patterns and fabrics that were inspired by that era in our country’s history.
Quilts of valor
Modern history was reflected in the 2015 Quilt-a-Fair’s Quilts of Valor display. Stitched with love, prayers and healing thoughts, these patriotic quilts are tangible reminders of people’s gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices of America’s service men and women and their families.
Since 2003, the Quilts of Valor Foundation has become a national, grassroots community service effort that connects the homefront with America’s wounded warriors.
So far, more than 124,500 Quilts of Valor have been presented to service members who have been injured physically or mentally by war.
After viewing displays like the Quilts of Valor, visitors to the 2015 Quilt-a-Fair enjoyed listening to guest speaker Darlene Zimmerman of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, who shared stories of the history of quilting through the decades.
“Many of the quilt patterns we use today developed from 1860 to 1900,” said Zimmerman, a fabric designer and quilt book author who is known as “the feedsack lady,” thanks to her collection of vintage feedsacks. “Many of these patterns, from ‘Churn Dash’ to ‘Hole in the Barn Door,’ reflect elements of daily life at that time.”
Part of the proceeds from the 2015 Quilt-a-Fair will go towards maintaining the Sac County Barn Quilts.
“When we painted and installed all the Sac County barn quilts in 2005-2006, people all across Sac County worked together to create a rural art attraction,” said Peyton, who encourages people to visit Sac County’s barn quilts. “We were all very proud of what we accomplished.”
The Quilt-a-Fair is an extension of that project.
“The opportunity to showcase our rural communities, businesses, barn quilts and fairgrounds motivates us to produce the best possible quilt festival,” Peyton said. “We continue to work collaboratively to make good things happen.”
For more information on the Barn Quilts of Sac County, log onto www.barnquilts.com.
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