Working to preserve and promote America's National Scenic Byways
National Scenic Byway Foundation Endorses "Beauty of America's Byways" Showcase -- Quilter Participation Invited from Patchwork Parkway to Great Lakes Seaway Trail, Paul Bunyan Byway and Beyond. More details."
Quilt Shows attract visitors! Quilt Shows that have historic themes tied to a particular place attract crowds of visitors!
The Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway demonstrated that with its recent War of 1812 Quilt Show in Sackets Harbor, NY. Sackets Harbor was a primary naval base during the War, and 2012 is the bicentennial anniversary of that War.
The Great Lakes Seaway Trail has sponsored an annual quilt show on their byway for nine years. Each year the show has had a different focus or theme about which quilters made quilts for display. One year the theme was lighthouses along the byway. For other years, the themes were byway birds and byway wildflowers.
War of 1812 Quilt Show
The War of 1812 Quilt Show included 135 quilts from 17 states and Canada. In addition to the Seaway Trail Discover Center, quilts were also at two other venues in the community, the Sackets Harbor Visitor Center and the Art Center. Using three sites encouraged visitors to stroll around the village and visit shops and restaurants.
The show organizers send the theme and criteria to quilters a year in advance to give them time to create quilts. The War of 1812 quilts were to be 30"x70" (reflecting a size that soldiers might have used in 1812) and made of fabrics similar to what was available in 1812. The youngest quilt maker was 12 years old.
The quilts were displayed interspersed among the Discovery Center permanent exhibits. Historic re-enactors were stationed among the quilts to answer questions. One historic interpreter demonstrated sewing tools and buttons from the early 1800's. Others (including two cute children) modeled authentic replicas of clothing from that era.
Show admission was $5.00 with quilt makers with quilts entered in the show given free admission and a special name tag. During the two-day event, over 1,000 visitors were counted including three bus tour groups. The visitors filled nearby restaurants and shops.
The Quilt Show Committee selected a small group of the quilts to be used throughout the rest of the year as a traveling educational exhibit along the byway. The small exhibit will also be part of a larger nationwide quilt show schedule managed by the Mancuso Management Company.
As is true of other types of events, organization and advanced preparation are the keys to success. Publicity, quilt installers, greeters, historic re-enactors, quilt demonstrators, performances, parking provisions, food and drink, etc., etc. all must be planned. Nearby restaurants should have advance information about the event so they can be ready for additional customers. For quilt events, partnering with a local quilt guild can provide additional assistance and expertise.
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