Over thirteen years ago an enthusiastic quilt show producer named Rita Barber
came to Lancaster. I remember her talking about her Quilters' Heritage
Celebration and the possibility of bringing it here. Amish Country seemed like a
natural location for a world-class event of this nature, and I was excited at
the prospect of such a show.
That first Celebration was a revelation. While I am not a "student"
or practitioner of the art of quilting, I have always admired Amish quilts. When
I was living in Japan, I discovered that quilting was popular there, too,
sometimes using the marvelous designs and colors of Japanese textiles.
But the first Quilters' Heritage Celebration expanded my definition of
"quilts" through the sheer variety of quilt expression and creativity.
The colors, the designs, and the techniques were amazing. I truly believe that
an interest in quilts is not necessary to enjoy this show. If you appreciate
color and creativity and artistic expression, you will be enriched by a visit to
Each year the show has expanded and improved, and it seems all of Lancaster
County gets caught up in "quilt mania" for a few days. By 1998, the
Quilters' Heritage Celebration was named one of the Top 100 Events in North
America, a prestigious honor bestowed by the American Bus Association. In
addition, the show ranks as one of the Top Ten quilting events in the world.
So here we are thirteen years later, and the wonder and excitement have not
diminished. Each year also brings a new theme exhibit, and I figured something
special would be in store for the new millennium. Well, folks, it had to be
"Quilt 2000: State of the Art." The exhibit, exclusive to the
Celebration, will feature quilts and other artifacts, both old and new, that
demonstrate the development and current status of quilting both here and in
cultures around the world.
There will also be other smaller displays and exhibits, including the
traveling sections of another great show, Quilt National '99. But the main
attraction is always the juried and judged show, with hundreds of amazing quilts
of all sizes. The creatvity and quality put into these quilts is encouraged by
the $12,000 in prizes donated by local and national sponsors.
Some of my favorite exhibits in the show are the "challenges."
Companies specify certain fabrics, and quilters must use only these fabrics to
produce their designs and quilts. Rather than putting a limit on creativity, as
one might suppose, these challenges often spark flights of fancy and imagination
that are a joy to behold. And, while most of us think of quilts as large enough
to cover a bed, there are also many miniatures and even "Post Card
Quilts." These exhibits not only broaden our perception of what makes a
quilt, but also of what quilts are made from!
Since this is one of the top ten quilting events in the world, attendees come
from all over. There are nearly 100 classes and lectures by
internationally-known teachers and experts on every aspect of quilting, and many
are sold out months in advance. Naturally, there are over 75 merchants selling
everything from books to fabric to sewing machines.
The highlight of the four-day show for many is the Fairfield Processing
Corporation's Fashion Show. Don't let that name mislead you. The is a
spectacular show of quilted dresses and garments, but of such colors, designs,
shapes, and creativity that the show produces a steady stream of "ooohhs"
and "aaahhs" from the audience. The one-of-a-kind fashions represent
some of the most creative designers and quilters in America.
In between events, the Lancaster Host Resort is buzzing with the excitement
that happens when thousands of people of like interest gather together in one
place. Before and after the show, visitors travel the Amish countryside to quilt
and fabric shops, special exhibitions, sales, even theater productions, all
centered on the quilt. (Many of these businesses have placed special
advertisements in this issue, and are open throughout the year.)
Perhaps you are still reading and thinking, "But do I really want to go and
spend a couple of hours looking at quilts?" My answer is, "You sure
do!" Just as you sometimes leave a Broadway musical humming the tunes and
feeling happy, you will leave this show feeling uplifted and enriched by the
colors, imagination, and sheer artistry that represent the best of the human
spirit. The Quilters' Heritage event is rightly named for what it is, a
The 2002 Quilters' Heritage Celebration is held April 4 - 7 at the Lancaster Host
Resort (717-299-5500) on Route 30. Show hours are: Thursday, 9-5; Friday, 9-7;
Saturday, 9-5; and Sunday, 11-4.