Sisters celebrates the quilter's art


Last updated 7/11/2023 at 10:07am

Photo by Cody Rheault

Young and old took in the color and creativity of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.

The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show ended Saturday in brilliant sunshine with breezes so light they never caused a ripple in the hanging quilts - all 1,166 of them.

They came by the busloads, literally. Exploration Tours of Rochester, Washington brought 45 as did Country Heritage Tours of Bedford, New Hampshire. Portland Modern Quilt Guild brought a smaller bus as did others with group sizes of nine to 20. Getaway Vacations from Alberta, Canada landed a luxury coach full of quilters.

And so it was with estimates of 8,000 to 10,000 rolling into town, eating and shopping to the delight of local eateries and merchants, some of whom brought in extra inventory and/or moved merchandise to sidewalk display racks.

Eight journeyed from the United Kingdom led by Anne Farnham of the Cotswold's where they know something about quilting.

"I guess you could say we're quilting fanatics," Farnham said.

"This show is just the bees knees," chimed in Abigail Loring, before realizing that the popular English expression of approval may be lost on her Sisters hosts.

Beth Lawson and her pal Roxy Ward came from Lexington, Kentucky, a three-day, 2,300-mile drive.

"It's a quilting pilgrimage," Ward said telling of the many stops they made along the way to fabled quilt shops, and small heritage museums that featured quilts.

"The outdoor show here is a mecca if you will," Lawson said.

They were dropping their rental car in Redmond and taking off at 5:10 a.m. Sunday morning, worried that they'd have extra baggage charges from their shopping spree.

"Y'all are so nice here," Mary Louise Simmons said in her Georgian drawl. "How do y'all stay so friendly with all us dropping in like this?"

Attendees from Texas and the southern states, where temperatures have been brutally hot for weeks, reveled in the fresh mountain air.

"I could just stay here all summer," said Florence Bowman from Dallas, Texas. She and her friend Trish Randall spent the entire week at Quilter's Affair, a week-long series of classes and events coordinated by Stitchin' Post.

Hood Avenue was closed to vehicles for four blocks, enabling the throngs to more easily navigate and visit the dozens of pop-up informational exhibits. Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District was on hand with water and friendly faces. So too Cloverdale Fire District. A Forest Service Hotshot fire crew from Modoc, California, had their rig open for inspection.

Local artists put up canopy exhibits. The galleries were jammed with visitors. Kids sold water on the street. The only calamity was when the landscape sprinklers went on at Sisters Feed, momentarily threatening hung quilts before quick-thinking volunteers covered the sprinkler heads.

Attendees just could not get enough of the world-famous display and occasionally showed fatigue at trying to get it all in, worried that the best quilt would be the one around the next corner or garnering the most affection.

"The sheer artistry is breathtaking," exclaimed Paula Bustamante from Crandall, Rhode Island. Indeed that was the most often used word heard throughout the day. That and "imagination."

Photo by Cody Rheault

Sisters was wrapped in color for the 48th Annual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.

Boarding their intercity luxury tour bus at 3:15, a group from the Midwest, having taken in the day, was satiated.

"We'll be talking about this all the way to Portland, and probably a week after," Suze Easton said for the group. "Maybe all year. This was really special. Thanks for having us."

Executive Director Dawn Boyd was very happy on Saturday.

"Absolutely wonderful year once again!" she said. "Over 1,100 quilts on display and they were all so unique. Shout out to every single person who donates their time - whether it's an hour or two, or those who commit days on end, we appreciate their help to create the quilt show! And we especially thank every quilter who allows us to share their special pieces of art and reveal the hidden stories within their lives."


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