Quilting is an important component of Waterloo Region’s long and rich heritage, and next week the annual Quilt and Fibre Art Festival will attract thousands of quilting enthusiasts from across the province to see what the area has to offer.
From May 22-26, venues in St. Jacobs, Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and New Hamburg will be home to the 17th annual festival while churches, businesses and community centres will open their doors to celebrate all things quilting.
“You like to see what others are doing so they come from all over the place to see what’s new,” said Ella Brubacher, the treasurer of the St. Jacobs quilt show that is a part of the festival. “There are always new patterns and new colour choices and new ideas; that’s the beauty of it.”
A full slate of activities is planned throughout the region, from quilting demonstrations, appraisals and workshops, to the now famous Mennonite Relief Sale, which auctions off quilts on the 25th and 26th to raise funds for Mennonite Central Committee projects around the world. Some 200 quilts will be auctioned that day and the event takes up the entire fairgrounds.
“(Visitors) can spend a couple days in St. Jacobs easily, and visiting all the other ones in the area I guess you could be here all week,” Brubacher said with a laugh. Not a quilter herself, she appreciates the hard work and time that goes into each design.
While quilting may have its roots in the Mennonite culture of Waterloo Region and beyond, one avid quilter believes the act of making a quilt has moved past those historical to become almost an art form.
“I think it started out that way, but now there are just as many non-Mennonite quilters as there are Mennonite quilters,” said Irma Buehler, a member of the St. Jacobs Mennonite Church and who has helped out with the event for the past 15 years or so.
“It really has become an art form more so than a utilitarian thing. We’ve taken them off the bed and put them up on the wall.”
The annual Quilt and Fibre Art Festival runs from May 22-26 throughout Waterloo Region and the surrounding communities. For more information on the wide range of activities and classes that are available, visit www.stjacobs.com/quilt-fibre-festival for a complete calendar of events and times.