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The History of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Quilt Show

The first quilt show, held in Berryville, Virginia, was held on April 24-25, 1981. The show, called “Quilting, Old and New”, was a co-sponsored by the owners of Country Calico Stitchery Shop, Shirley McIntyre and Lennis Pyne, and the local Extension Agent, Paulette Jennis, who was teaching a series of quilting classes at the time. The show was held at the American Legion building, which had abundant space to display quilts hanging on walls, as well as folded over racks, which were borrowed from the Blue Ridge Quilters of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Needlework was on display, there was a bake sale, and there were a number of different demonstrations, a practice that is continued today.


In June 1983, the show was held in conjunction with Berryville Days. The Clarke County Extension Homemakers coordinated the show.


In 1992, the show had to find a new home due to Dollar General purchasing the American Legion building. Fortunately, Joyce Jenkins, principal of the Berryville Primary School, came to the rescue. The show was held in the multi-purpose room at the school. Ms. Jenkins was gifted with a quilt signed by all the students and staff as a thank you for being such a great host.


The quilt show found its current home at the Clarke County Recreation Center in 1994. The larger facility allowed for antique furniture and plants to make the space more inviting as well as allowing space to display the Viewer’s Choice winner from the previous show. This is the year that a program was made to convey all that the show had to offer and list the quilts that were on display. In addition, there were four classes held, which 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 local author, Joyce Knight, and a fashion show of antique clothing followed by art wear of the 1990’s.


In April 1995, the show displayed 38 finished Template Challenge squares that were displayed beside the Blue Ridge Mountain Raffle Quilt. Over 2000 tickets for the raffle quilt were sold during the months that followed, and the winning ticket was drawn in December 1995.


The 1996 show featured Linda Poole’s quilt titled “The Greatest Moments in a Girl’s Life” as well as a huge quilt made for the Martinsburg production of the play “Quilters”. Two classes were offered: Computer Aided Design and Beginner Scherenschinitte.


In 1997, the feature quilt was “the Bride” by Linda Poole. The quilt had won the Viewer’s Choice blue ribbon at the American Quilters Society (AQS) show in Padukah, Kentucky the previous year. Displayed next to the quilt was a mannequin dressed in Laurie Badanes Prather’s bridal gown and a church pew decorated with ribbons and flowers.


An addition to the quilt show that the quilters enjoy to this day, are local vendors who sell fabric, notions, sewing machines, sewing gadgets, and other quilt-related items. 


In 2009, a website and Facebook page were created to connect to quilters near and far.

In the past, quilters entered quilts in specific categories: show challenge, individual group challenges, bed quilt, lap quilt, wall quilt, baby quilt, miniature quilt, wearable art, modern quilt, art quilt, and other. On Friday and Saturday, show attendees voted on their favorite quilts in each category and ribbons were awarded on Sunday. In advance of the 2019 show, the committee decided to omit all categories except show challenge and individual challenges from our supporting groups, all other quilts would be general admission. This was done to ease confusion as to which category a quilt should be entered into. Show attendees voted for their favorite quilt in the show challenge, one in each group challenge, and their top five favorite quilts from the general entries.  


Following the 2019 show, a brand-new website was created, allowing for online registration, among other improvements. In addition, a logo was unveiled to create a recognizable image for the quilt show that could be used on all publications, as well as online. 


Our quilt show has long been the result of the cooperative efforts of members from three local quilt groups: Apple Valley Needle Threaders, Shenandoah Piecemakers, and Skyline Quilters. In 2018, Winchester Modern Quilters joined those three in sponsoring the show. All four groupss are dedicated to contributing to the surrounding community by donating hundreds of quilts and other handmade items each year.

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