SALEM - The history of the Civil War era, the Underground Railroad and quilts of all types will converge beginning today at the United Quilt Guild's 7th Biennial Quilt Show at the Salem Community Center.
Promoting the theme "Quilts of the Underground Railroad," the quilt show will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday with admission $6.
"We're all excited because we think this is going to be our best year ever," 2013 quilt show chairman Pat Williams said.
This year is the 10th anniversary of the Salem Community Center, the 20th anniversary of the United Quilt Guild and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, so planners decided to focus on Salem's history with the Underground Railroad for a theme, even inviting Abe and Mary Lincoln re-enactors to lecture.
For each show, guild members have what's called the guild challenge and this year's guild challenge is called "Hidden in Plain Sight" concerning stories told through quilts. Williams explained that according to stories about the Underground Railroad, quilts were used as message boards, hung outside with hidden messages in the quilt blocks directing escaped slaves to
safety. The theme includes contemporary quilts, but each quilt must tell a story.
A collection of quilts, clothing and other Civil War historical items will be displayed by the Loghurst Museum of Canfield, including some artifacts from Hale Farm & Village. The Algonquin Mills Guild will display a collection of Civil War-era quilts and demonstrate weaving, spinning and loom setup. The Osnaburg Quilt and Fiber Art Guild will have a display, also.
Besides those displays, the challenge quilts, a Little Quilt auction, quilt appraisals, demonstrations, classes and 21 vendors available for shopping, the quilt show will include the main attraction: 114 judged quilts of various categories, styles and methods.
Williams said these aren't just church lady quilts or your grandmother's quilts. Quilting and everything that goes with it has become a billion-dollar industry with shows paying out millions of dollars in awards. There are now art quilts and a new form which has just popped up in the last couple of years known as modern quilts, which are minimalistic in design and use simplistic lines.
"They're our artistic outlet," she said regarding quilts.
New to this year's event will be quilt appraisals, which will be available on Friday only. Two certified quilt appraisers from Columbus will look at quilts and figure a value.
More than $800 worth of prizes will be awarded, courtesy of sponsors Plummer & Jackson Attorneys at Law, A Touch of Thread Quilting Gallery, Western Reserve Landscaping, Thousands of Bolts, Timmy Wertz Towing, Bobbette's Quilting Services, Bob and Linda Sebo, Material Girl, Charter One Bank, Gene and Beth Gallo and Loghurst.
Winners in the major categories include: Best of Show and Best Machine Quilting, Linda Henderson; Best Handquilting, Patricia Patterson; Best Use of Color, Robyn Winn; Best Art Quilt, Best Use of Embellishments and Judge's Choice (Anita Shakelford), Pat Williams; and Judge's Choice (Linda Miller), Sue Burgess.
This year the Salem Historical Society will be operating the trolley to the show, with stops at the museums, the Kiwanis Antique Show at Centennial Park on Saturday and other historical spots.
The United Quilt Guild, formed in 1990, includes 100 members from all over the area and meets the first Tuesday of each month at the Salem Presbyterian Church on Second Street, which is where the judging took place over a two-day period earlier this week.
The guild makes quilts for donation to hospital oncology departments, veterans and charities. Since moving to SCC, the profits from the show have grown for the guild from $1,500 to $9,000 for the last show. About 20 percent of the show profits are donated to a particular charity, with the rest used for guild projects, such as the charity quilts, veterans' quilts and quilts for oncology departments.
To learn more about the guild, visit the guild website at www.unitedquiltguild.org.