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St. Jacobs locals a key part of next week’s Quilt and Fibre Art Festival

Anyone who’s ever been to St. Jacobs will have come across a quilt or two, but next week the village will be home to all things quilting.

Starting on May 23, venues all over St. Jacobs and throughout Waterloo Region will open their doors for the annual Quilt and Fibre Art Festival.

Eleanor Petrie, a member of the St. Jacobs Quilt Board, says the five-day event will give quilters of all skills a chance to share their art and techniques with the public.

Petrie says some of the best events will be in St. Jacobs next week, including locales such as the St. Jacobs Schoolhouse Theatre and The Village Silos. She says the shows are for everyone, not just those who are already in the quilting community.

“I think it is just about the appreciation for the quilts. People are going to see a variety of art, from people who are very knowledgeable, or [for] some people, this might be their first quilt. The old Schoolhouse venue there is just such a great venue with the wooden floors and the tin ceiling and those gorgeous windows,” said Petrie. “It is just a treat to walk around, and we will be serving tea and snacks in the basement. Bring your friend, have a good time and we have white glovers or volunteers, and they are friendly and will perk up your day. I think it is just showing an appreciation for the various stages of quilting. You look at a quilt and you think, how long does this take? It is art.”

At the Schoolhouse Theatre, guest artist Diane Carson will have plenty of quilts on display, created with a range of techniques and patterns. The theatre will also play host to the quilt block challenge, celebrating Canada 150.

“This year, we have had 20 blocks come in with red and white tulips in honour of Canada,” said Petrie. “ It has been a compiled as a quilt and it will go to the Mennonite Central Committee’s New Hamburg Relief Sale. Over the years, we have raised more than $50,000  for them. In addition to that, various people just hang quilts. It is a lovely display.”

At The Village Silos, artist Diane Stewart will be sharing her fabric art techniques. Her work strays from traditional quilting, but still uses fabric to create scenes to put in a frame.

“It will be something a little bit different that our usual quilt shows,” said Petrie.

For Petrie, one of the biggest draws is going to be Audrey Vrooman at the quilt trunk show, held at St. James Lutheran Church. Vrooman’s displays will take visitors through her transition from a traditional quilter, to something a bit more modern.

“She started out as a traditional quilter, but now she is very into modern quilting. She goes to conferences all over with her modern quilts and she is a long arm quilter,” she said. “That means that she uses a big machine, about 14 feet long, and then you have your machine that goes along on the rod so you can cover a lot of territory a lot faster than hand quilting. Hand quilting is a long process, so today more and more quilters are moving to the long arm machines. They can do pretty intricate patterns and it is done a lot of faster, usually in a few hours.”

Events will run from May 23 to 26, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on May 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the St. Jacobs Schoolhouse Theatre, St. James Lutheran Church, The Village Silos, St. Jacobs Mennonite Church and Quilt Essentials on King Street. Some events are free, while others charge a small admission price.

There are other events running in Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo and New Hamburg.

For a full schedule of the Quilt and Fibre Art Festival, visit www.stjacobs.com.

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