Berryville’s First Annual Quilt Show “Quilting Old and New” was held on April 24th and 25th, 1981. It was a cooperative event co-sponsored by the owners of Berryville’s “Country Calico Stitchery” shop, Shirley McIntyre and Lennis Pyne, and Paulette Jennis, the local Extension Agent who was teaching a series of quilting classes at the time.
The American Legion Building was the perfect place to locate the show because it had a large room. That first year quilts were hung on the walls and folded and hung on racks borrowed from the Blue Ridge Quilters of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The racks had eight to ten quilts on them. They learned from the experience that the quilts needed to be unfolded so they could be better viewed and that overnight security was important. That first year, selections of needlework were also on display, there was a bake sale, and attendees enjoyed a number of different demonstrations. Ramona Abrell, from the Providence Chapel Club, successfully took on the project of serving lunch at that first Quilt Show.
Later in 1981, the “Country Calico Stitchery” shop went out of business. The next quilt show was held in June of 1983 in conjunction with Berryville Days. The Clarke County Extension Homemakers took on the project.
Clarke County has had three Extension Agents since Paulette Jennis. Susan Lewis helped with the 1983 show and Nancy Thompson arrived in 1984. Nancy retired early in 1993. Jan Blankenship became the new Agent in 1993 and the Extension Service changed its name to Clarke County Association for Family and Community Education.
In 1992, the Dollar Store arrived and took over the Legion Building. Fortunately, Joyce Jenkins, Principal of the Berryville Primary School, and the School Board came to the rescue. The 1992 quilt show was held in the multi-purpose room at the Berryville Primary School. Joyce Jenkins was gifted with a quilt signed by all the students and staff as a thank you for being such a great host.
In 1993, the Clarke County Recreation Center became the new home for the quilt show. The larger facility allowed for an area for children to play with games and toys. Antique furniture and plants made the show room more inviting. The Viewer’s Choice Quilts from the previous year were displayed. Quilts were hung on new racks made by Murray Smith and Henry Pyne, and a program outlined all the show had to offer and the various quilts on display.
In 1994, the quilt show held four classes that required pre-registration. It also featured the Keepsake Quilters Traveling Exhibit, the D.G. Cooley Elementary School’s group quilts, the presentation of a mini-drama about a nineteenth century quilting group written by Joyce Knight, a local author, and ended with a fashion show of antique clothing followed by art wear of the 1990’s.
In 1995, the show was moved back to the month of April. Bill and Joyce Badanes, along with Henry Pyne, made three dozen road signs that attracted and directed viewers to the show. The 38 finished Template Challenge squares were displayed beside the completed and beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain Quilt. Over 2000 raffle tickets were sold during the months that followed, and in December of 1995, the winning ticket was drawn and the Blue Ridge Quilt was won by Kelly and Kenneth Unger, Jr. of Berryville.
The 1996 Show featured Linda Poole’s quilt titled “The Greatest Moments in a Girl’s Life.” Bill Badanes built special racks to display both Linda Poole’s quilt and a huge quilt made for the Martinsburg production of the play, “Quilters”. Two classes were offered: Computer Designed Quilts and Beginner Scherenschinitte.
“The Bride” came to the 1997 show in several forms. Linda Poole’s quilt by that name, which had won a blue ribbon at the AQS show in Padukah, KY the previous year, was featured alongside a mannequin dressed in Laurie Badanes Prather’s bridal gown. Next to the quilt and gown was a decorated church pew complete with flowers and ribbons.
Moving to the Recreation Center location allowed for the addition of vendors to our shows. Vendors have added much to the enjoyment of the visitors. In 2002, sturdy new quilt frames were made by Joe Guenther and Murray Smith. Their efforts greatly enhanced the display of submitted quilts.
In 2009, Sue Hickman envisioned a website and Facebook page for our show, moving it into the internet age and providing a connection to quilters through social media. Following the 2009 show, Sue designed the first version of the website. It included a home page, a page showcasing the upcoming show’s details, and another highlighting images of the Viewers’ Choice winning quilts from previous shows. Another of her goals for the website was for it to provide information about local quilt groups in the Northern Shenandoah Valley. Also as a service to the local quilting community, and as a way for local businesses to financially help support the show, she initiated the Website Sponsors page. She continued to maintain and update both the website and Facebook page for the next ten years and five shows.
Our show had long been the result of the cooperative efforts of members from three local quilt clubs: Apple Valley Needle Threaders (AVNT), Shenandoah Piecemakers, and the Skyline Quilters Guild. In 2018, Winchester Modern Quilters (WMQ) joined those three in sponsoring the show.
Historically, our show has featured quilts in the following categories: Show Challenge, Bed Quilt, Wall Quilt, Lap Quilt, Baby Quilt, Miniature Quilts, Wearable Art, Other, and Club Challenges. In 2015, categories were added for Art Quilt and Modern Quilt. On Friday and Saturday, viewers at the shows voted for their favorite quilts in each category and, on the final morning of the show, ribbons were awarded to the winning quilts.
In advance of the 2019 show, the Show Committee decided to drop all categories except Show Challenge and Club Challenges. Starting in 2019, viewers are asked to select their top five quilts in the show, in addition to their favorite in the Show Challenge and Club Challenge categories.
To this day, our Northern Shenandoah Valley Quilt Show is held in April, now biennially.
We hope you will join us as we look forward to this opportunity to highlight local quilts and quilters with the goal of perpetuating love of this time honored art.
In 2019, we will hold our 29th show.