Community… A Continued Series St. Mary’s Quilt Fair: The Warmth of Fall for 43 years!

St.Mary'sQuiltFairAs we begin to feel summer’s end with the cooler air, we naturally look for ways to feel the warmth of the sun while chimneys slowing begin to perk. We may lament that we are not ready for the cold but then we find a place that is ready to help us transition to the new season with warm quilts, homemade soups and desserts, warm drinks, many gifts to warm the soul or home, and most importantly the warmth of friendship and community that extends out to anyone who wants to come.

St. Mary’s Quilt fair is a long standing event in Vernonia that showcases many of the residents’ talent for all kinds of crafts such as scarfs, gloves, purses, decorations, jewelry, cookbooks, baked goods, blankets, and much more. Of course the main attraction is the quilts. And there are so many beautiful quilts-a whole room full-it is hard to decide which to buy! There are also vintage quilts and quilts that are solely for your admiration naturally because they are truly a work of art.

I could go on thinking of vivid descriptions of fall and items at the quilt fair, alas this continued series of community events is also about what makes these wonderful offerings possible. We know it takes commitment, hard work, volunteers, and of course an audience,  but who does it and how do they do it?

I recently asked Betty Schmidlin, chairperson for the event, to tell me a little more about how it all comes together.

Schmidlin told me that “…the quilt fair has been happening for 43 years in Vernonia and that St. Mary’s ladies have been quilting for years though many of the original people have either passed on or moved away…” but that hasn’t seemed to stop the event from attracting people who carry on the tradition. Thank goodness for us!

The event supports 1/3 of St. Mary’s annual revenue and their costs vary from year to year; St. Mary’s budgets for the expenses from their general fund. Betty said that they work with a skeleton crew and depend mainly on quilt and craft consignments. She explained that several people take on various aspects of the event including: Willamae Murray and Pat Kleinman who are in charge of quilts and crafts, respectively; Terry Lindauer who organizes the recipes and cooks the soup for lunches; and Maria Lemay who works hard to advertise our event. The group starts planning for the event in early spring and attracts an amazing 30 volunteers plus school children who help bus tables and assist the elderly at lunch.

I asked Schmidlin what challenges they have faced with the event. She explained that the economic downturn hit them hard but is hopeful that people feel they now have the resources to purchase these works of art.

Schmidlin also wanted to mention that they always have quilts on display that are not for sale.  “This year we have several of Louise Smejkal’s hand quilted ones and one of Esther Hunteman’s quilts on show.  Both women were among those who initially started our annual quilt fair.”

Currently they do not need more volunteers but if you have an interest in quilting or craft making, you can join them on Tuesdays at the Church hall.

Please join St. Mary’s as they offer us a beautiful array of art in the form of warm quilts, crafts, food, and merriment. You may even win an amazing Star of Bethlehem quilt by purchasing raffle tickets at $1 each or 6 for $5.

The event runs from September 19 – 21, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM with lunch served at 11:00 AM. Admission to the event is $1.