Farm Fest features old-time quilt show

By Jessica Johnson

May 14, 2014

Mayberry Farm Fest is a celebration of agriculture and traditional cultural arts from this area, and this year it will include a quilt show and quilt raffle organized by local resident Jessica Bolick.

Quilt-making is one of the oldest forms of art in North Carolina and the United States, but it is one that came from necessity — from days past when heavy quilts were needed in families who heated their homes with wood-burning stoves or fireplaces. Quilts were essential for those who lived in the mountains and foothills, where the heavy layers of quilts, often made from old clothing and feed sack material, kept them warm at night.

Stitched into those quilts were stories, commemoration of births, marriages, and family history. In the modern world, quilt-making has become more of a hobby and an art form, but with each generation that passes, less people are carrying on the tradition, and here in Mount Airy and Surry County there are those, like Bolick, striving to keep the tradition alive.

The Quilt Show will be held during Farm Fest Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., in the building directly to the right of Old North State Winery, on the corner of N. Main and Oak Streets. The building was recently vacated by a previous tenant, and it was the perfect venue for the quilt show, Bolick said, adding that she was grateful to owner Gene Rees for allowing her to use the space.

The building will be lined with 30-plus quilts during the quilt show. On Friday night, Amy Askins will view the quilts and choose her favorite for the Judges Choice award. A People’s Choice award will be handed out to the quilt that collects the most votes during the Mayberry Farm Fest Quilt Show.

Bolick said the quilts include a large variety of both new and antique quilts, made by people who live in Mount Airy and Surry County, as well as quilts from around the Meadows of Dan, Virginia area, from a quilt group that donated about 16 quilts for the show. Some of the antique quilts will be available for purchase, Bolick added.

Bolick is raffling off a quilt made by Amy Askins of Honeybee Quilting, who lives in the Pine Ridge area. The raffle quilt was created using local volunteer fire department t-shirts, from all 18 departments, as well as the Mount Airy Fire Department and the Fire Marshall’s office.

Raffle tickets for the quilt are $1 each, with a free ticket for those who purchase ten raffle tickets. All proceeds from the quilt raffle will go to restoration for the Mount Airy Fire Department’s Old No. 5 Fire Truck, which was the fifth fire truck acquired by the department.

Jessica Bolick is 26-years-old, and she said quilting is a source of pride for her — “I love being a person in my mid-20s who quilts. It is a dying art, and it is the most prideful thing in the world for someone to come to my house and compliment me on one of my quilts, and for me to be able to say with pride that I made it…no one in my family quilted, so it is something I chose to do, and it brings me so much pride.”

Bolick said she was taught how to quilt by local resident Jody Crawford. Bolick said Crawford introduced her to Kayla Ellis, a local artist and art teacher at Flat Rock and Franklin elementary schools, as well as Regina Clarke, a transplant from California.

The group of ladies all share a love of quilting, and Bolick shared they love to get together for quilting and sharing ideas and stories behind their quilts. She said she is “very grateful” to Crawford for teaching her the art of quilting, and it is a hobby Bolick said she truly loves. She joined the local quilters guild, and was the youngest member of the group, but Bolick said it was difficult to keep up with due to her work schedule, so now it is a hobby she enjoys on her own and with her group of quilting friends.

“I’ve acted, been involved in dance classes, photography, but I’ve never felt more proud of anything I do than I am my quilting. It’s just been so much fun.”

Bolick said she wanted to thank Creative Sewing and Designs, who donated the material to finish the raffle quilt; volunteer Josh Wilmoth; Surry Arts Council, including Executive Director Tanya Jones and Ken White, who allowed her to use racks for displaying the quilts; and a “big thank you” to sponsors, Johnson Brothers Nursery, Rogers Realty, and SouthData.

“I hope everyone will come on out and see our beautiful quilts, and buy a raffle ticket,” Bolick said. “I want to share my love of quilting with the entire community.”

Reach Jessica Johnson at 719-1933 and on Twitter @MountAiryJess.