Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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June 28, 2013

Crowds attracted to two LaGrange County events

Northern Indiana is a quilters mecca this week. The Topeka Quilt Sale is celebrating its 39th year and the Shipshewana Quit Festival is in its fifth year. Between the two venues, quilters of varying skill compete for ribbons and prizes or sell their wares to eager crowds of fellow quilt enthusiasts from across the United States. These two events held the last week in June every year draw enormous crowds and help the local economy every summer.

Topeka Quilt Show

“This year the turnout has been great”, said Janice Gingerich. Janice runs the Topeka Quilt Show & Sale, her husband Harold is the pastor of the Eden Worship Center, which hosts the sale in Honeyville.

The show began Monday and runs through Friday.

This year they are featuring a very unusual, hand-sewn, original designed, queen-sized quilt for sale. The artist said she visited a reconstructed round barn in a museum. When she looked up she was fascinated by the symmetrical design of the wood rafters and the skylight centered thereupon. So she designed the quilt to mimic those patterns. The quilt is done in wood-tones and will sell for $2,000, that amount is a first for the quilt sale.

The sale is held in the former Honeyville school gymnasium, which is lined wall-to-wall with quilts. Volunteers wander the aisles with gloves on in order to open up the quilts onto a viewing table for interested buyers. This year there are 963 items on display.

“We have everything from quilted baby blankets to king-size quilts, hot-pads, clothing and table runners,” Gingerich said.. “We manage to sell about a third of the inventory. But the crowds are big this year, so you never know. The quilters tell us how much to charge and we add a handling percentage onto that amount. Everyone thinks that is fair and that way we cover expenses and it takes care of next year.”

Shipshewana Quilt Festival

Traffic was thick and smiles were everywhere at Shipshewana Quilt Festivals opening day. There were more than 140 entries for the judging.

The unusual method of displaying many of the quilts was also part of the attraction. The Hudson museum staff loaned their cars as quilt “props,” much to the delight of the male members of the visiting public. The winning quilts were not draped across car hoods, but they stood out just the same.

The winners were well recognized names in the quilting world, having won shows from the West to East coasts and many in the middle states. There were nine cash prizes awarded and one “Best in Show.” The top prize of $3,000 went to Sherry Reynolds of Laramie, Wyo. The quilt was spectacular. Titled “America — Let It Shine,” Reynolds’ quilt was queen sized and sewn entirely on a small Bernina 1001 model sewing machine.

According to show chairwoman Nancy Troyer, Reynolds is a stay-at-home mom who only recently took up quilting after her children go to bed in the evening. She makes up her own designs and everything on the quilt signifies something. The back of the quilt was even more intricate than the front.

Patsy Middaugh from Dowagiac, Mich. and her buddy Evelyn Broekhuizen from Decatur, Mich., were excited to see the award-winning Reynolds quilt up close. They both quilt and have many books and magazines about quilting so they know who is popular and famous.

“We enjoy coming to these events to see what other people are doing and the quality of the work that is out here on display,” Broekhuizen said.

 “I am thrilled to see that quilt over there,” Middaugh said, pointing to a flowery, light pastel, colored quilt. It is teacups, teaspoon and teapots. It is just lovely and so intricately done.”

The Shipshewana Quilt Festival runs through Saturday.

For information on the Shipshewana - go to: www.shipshewanaquiltfest.com.

For information on the Topeka Sale – go to: www.facebook.com/TopekaQuiltShow.

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