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And summer is here

The lilacs near the old schoolhouse are starting to bloom. The buildings at the Historical Village are ready for summer visitors. The new picnic tables (thank you to the Tobacco Valley Community Foundation) are waiting, ready for your family and friends. And the museum opens on Saturday, May 29 at 1:00pm. It will be open for the remainder of the summer, seven days a week from 1:00pm – 5:00pm. There will be volunteer docents on hand everyday to answer your questions and provide information.

The wonderful Montana PBS “Backroads of Montana” episode that features the Historical Village and our quilters is available to watch either on the MTPBS website or at this link. Thanks to Ray Ekness who did a great job capturing the spirit of the Historical Village and the efforts of the quilters. We very much appreciate being part of the “Backroads of Montana” series, and hope it will inspire new people to join us to quilt this fall.

And a reminder that besides the museum which is open daily, there are also special events happening at the Historical Village this summer. The Eureka Montana Quilt Show is scheduled for August 7th. This is a great event to enjoy throughout the entire downtown. If you want to help, show up that morning around 7:00am to help hang quilts. Or come later in the day to amble along the main street and through the Historical Village to admire hundreds of amazing quilts. For more information, visit the Eureka Montana Quilt Show site.

On Thursday, August 19th, Sunburst Arts and Education brings Montana Shakespeare in the Parks to the Historical Village for this year’s performance of “Cymbeline“. Free admission although donations are always appreciated. Box dinners will be on sale at the Historical Village starting at 5pm. The play begins at 6pm. This event is always a highlight of the summer, creating a bit of theatrical magic in our town.

Lilacs are starting to bud

The weather is turning Montana Spring beautiful. The old schoolhouse isn’t as chilly in the mornings now when the women show up to quilt. We have been working on a couple quilts that will probably take us to the end of the season. Both lovely colors and fabrics, both mostly easy to sew, both require a fair amount of stitching. Outside of the schoolhouse, volunteers are starting to work on various projects. Building storm windows, replacing torn screens, rebuilding the back of the caboose, checking the boardwalk for boards that might need to be replaced before too many summer visitors show up.

Rendezvous Days will be coming up on April 24th so that is always an exciting time to be at the Historical Village. The buildings won’t be open this year but there will be many vendors set up, and live music across at Riverside Park. Of course if you ever need to check out what the quilters have available for sale, you can go to our online shop anytime or stop by on Fridays before the middle of May. The quilters will put their needles, thimbles and threads away for the summer then when the old schoolhouse resumes it appearance as part of the museum.

Lots to look forward to so be sure to mark your calendar. The Eureka Montana Quilt Show is all day on August 7th and Shakespeare in the Parks (this year’s play is Cymbeline) is the evening of August 19th.

Moving through February

It might seem like a middle-of-winter and not much is happening time but that is not true at all when it comes to the Historical Village. Despite the very cold temperatures we’ve been having lately in the Tobacco Valley, the women continue to meet every Friday to quilt from 10:00am – 3:00pm. And yes, if you want to join us either as an experienced quilter or as a novice, you are certainly welcome. It has been an interesting season for the quilts we worked on – four tied ones for the staff at Eureka Healthcare, a lovely burgundy and green one Sally pieced which sold to a woman in New York, two art quilts Rita put together for a project on the pandemic, and a beautiful one made with vintage fabrics Kathy Ingram brought in to have quilted.

Besides Friday quilting, members are also constantly adding things to our online store. We decided to keep it open at least until summer so if you are in the market for a baby quilt, books about the Tobacco Valley, bright potholders or scrubbies, hand embroidered tea towels or pillow cases, or even large quilts (either tied or hand stitched), check out our store online. Just go to the Tobacco Valley Board of History website.

And despite the cold temps and gray skies, we are thinking of Spring when more people begin passing through the Historical Village. Thanks to partial support from the Tobacco Valley Community Foundation, we purchased two new picnic tables that will be ready to replace a couple that have seen better days. And now volunteers are working to get storm windows for the old school house building. These will make it so much easier to keep the building warm next winter when the women are quilting. Special thanks to the EMQS Foundation for facilitating that project. And we have an awesome team of new volunteers who will help repair the ceiling in the old church, repair windows in the Baney House, and offered to help repair the boardwalk. Thanks to all of you who stepped up to keep the Historical Village in great shape. In May, it seems the quilters will be featured in a Backroads of Montana episode! This is a wonderful program on Montana PBS. We will certainly get the word out when we know the date and time.

If you want to be part of keeping our community’s heritage alive, don’t hesitate to attend our next board meeting on March 5 at 10:00am in the old school house. We can always use help with a wide range of tasks from social media, to archives, to fundraising.

This Year’s (online) Bazaar

We were tempted to post a photo of a dog rather then the table laden with wonderful items made by the women at the Historical Village. We seriously thought of boasting about old dogs learning new tricks but decided it made more sense to just tell you about the awesome bazaar we’ve set up for you.

Follow the link from the Tobacco Valley Board of History website to our spanking new online store (it says Shop at the top of our Home page). Yes, it will have everything you typically enjoyed at our annual holiday bazaar. Cathryn Schroeder’s pine needle baskets, scrubbies, lovely potholders, embroidered dish towels, and yummy jams. Of course there are quilts – baby quilts, tied flannel quilts, quilts with vintage tops, and quilts hand stitched by the Friday quilters. Actually you should just go to the store now to see everything we have because…..well, there is a lot!

It is truly an online store where you pick out things you want to purchase, and then click on the little shopping cart to check out. The store takes credit cards so that makes it easy. You pay online for your items and then any Friday that is convenient, between the hours of 10:00am and 3:00pm you can stop by the old school house in the Historical Village to pick up your order. Do you work between 10-3 and can’t make it to the Village? No problem. Get in touch and we will arrange an alternate pick up time. And guess what? The online bazaar officially opens November 20 so that gives you plenty of time to purchase those lovely items you want to send to friends and family. And because its an online bazaar, you can shop 24/7. Insomnia? Not a problem – get your shopping done anytime while supporting the Historical Village.

Because as always, 100% of these sales support the Historical Village. So with every purchase, you help us maintain the grounds, keep the buildings looking great and pay the bills. So thank you for your purchases! And if you happen to be a minimalist who really doesn’t want anything more (although the upcycled wreaths Lynda made are really fun), its even possible to make a donation to the Tobacco Valley Board of History from our online store.

We are so excited about this endeavor. But to be clear, we are unable to gift wrap and/or ship items you purchase. We are a small group of volunteers and making all these beautiful items (did we mention huckleberry preserves and Cathy’s spicy peach jam?) and managing the online store is what we are capable of now. We are confident you can wrap your own gifts or support our local UPS store if you need any help with shipping. If you live out of the Tobacco Valley and want to purchase something, get in touch with someone you know locally who can pick your items up and arrange to get them to you.

Always a treat to see the Historical Village stretch into the 21st century! Look forward to helping you find perfect delights for everyone on your list. New things will be added weekly so be sure to check back (the cute catnip toys and homemade dog treats are available now!).

https://tobacco-valley-board-of-history.square.site/

We call it home

Recently the quilters at the Historical Village got some press. There was a wonderful article in Montana Arts Council’s State of the Arts quarterly newspaper. Locals who saw the articles were thrilled. And even some folks from out of the area read about these hard-working women. There were various follow-up conversations about the quilters and what they do, which got us thinking more seriously about why we are excited for the press, what exactly is our story?

There have been women quilting at the Historical Village since the mid 1970s. It would be hard to imagine how many stitches have been done in that amount of time. Let’s just say countless. Of course, the women enjoy getting together on Fridays to quilt, share ideas and laughter, but they also realize their goal is to preserve the Historical Village. They do this with the money they raise through their quilting, with the information about the valley they share with each other and the visitors who stop by, and with maintenance of all the archives under the care of the Tobacco Valley Board of History.

And this is what they have been guardians of for nearly fifty years. So if you stop by the Historical Village today, you see buildings that have been well maintained. You can ask for photos and we will go through our files to find one that shows Fortine in the early 1900s or the first saw mill in the valley. You can bring your children to the museum in the summer to see examples of things you or your parents or your grandparents used. And recently we updated our collection of over two hundred oral histories (taped interviews and some written transcripts). You can think of us as the Keepers of the Hearth.

But is that our story? Or is that just who we are? The story for us at this moment in time seems to be a mystery – who will continue to keep this hearth burning bright in the future? There is lots of support for our membership drive and we are very appreciative of the money people donate to help the Historical Village with expenses. But there needs to be a treasurer to handle that money, and a secretary to deal with paperwork. Who can arrange for ground maintenance in the summer, shovel snow in the winter or find volunteers for trash pick-up? Are there individuals who want to sit around on Fridays listening to stories so they will be able to pass them on thirty years from now?

If you read our story, it involves searching for clues, talking with a stranger in some dark cafe, tracking down information to solve the mystery of who will be the keepers in the future of this place we call home. Do we follow bread crumbs? Take hints from Lois Lowry’s young adult novel, The Giver? Perhaps find clues in Robert Putnam’s lament about the decline of social capital? Any help to solve this mystery will be greatly appreciated.

Another turn

Despite the warm days, one can sense fall slowly approaching. The days are starting to get noticeably shorter and the nights just a tad cooler.  The fields are mostly a dry golden now and the aspen are just beginning to show bits of yellow. The quilters met a few times over the summer for picnics at the Historical Village, sitting out in front of the museum to catch up on IMG_2834each others’ lives.  And it was during one of these summer afternoons that the decision was made to start quilting again in September.  We will put two quilts up on large frames so we don’t have to sit so close together, and of course those who want will wear masks.  Sally pieced a couple tops that will get us started.

With the lack of large events for the Tobacco Valley Board of History, we weren’t able to sell many raffle tickets for this year’s quilt. Then the Lincoln County Fair which is where the winning ticket is typically drawn was cancelled.  So the quilters decided to carry over the lovely blue sampler quilt until next summer.  It will give us an opportunity to sell more raffle tickets and hopefully the fair will be in full swing next August. This is, of course, great news for you if you haven’t bought your raffle ticket yet.  Now you have an entire year to catch up with one of the quilters or to stop by the old school house on a Friday starting in September.

We will take this opportunity to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who submitted their membership to the Tobacco Valley Board of History.  It has been a challenging year and to receive so many memberships that allow us to continue to maintain the grounds and buildings is deeply appreciated. If by chance, your membership form is still sitting in a pile of papers on your desk, it isn’t too late to mail it in.

Summer in the valley

It is not a typical summer by any stretch.  But if you stop by the Historical Village, you can still laze in the cool grass under the trees appreciating a bit of calmness as the children swing nearby.  Although the museum buildings aren’t opeIMG_8556n to the public this year, the grounds beckon.  Locals hang out there with picnics and to have a lovely space for children. Visitors from out of the area stop by to stretch their legs and look at the old buildings, learn a bit about at our community’s history.

Since the museum isn’t open this year, it means less income from sales and donations to maintain the Historical Village.  We are currently in the midst of our annual membership drive, which this year is more important than ever.  If you received our letter in the mail reminding you it is time to donate, please know your generosity is much appreciated.  If you are new to the area and are interested in being a member and want to make a donation, please send your contact information along with you check to:  Tobacco Valley Board of History   PO Box 1452  Eureka, MT 59917.

Thank you.

 

Lilacs are blooming

Just enough going on that it made sense to let you know.  First a loud ‘hurrah!!’ for selling our beautiful Piano Keys quilt online.  This is the first time we attempted this sort of sale for one of our own quilts, but as we missed our winter fundraiser (The Wardens concert) apianokeys5nd our May rummage sale, we needed to try something new. We announced the quilt for sale on Facebook to see if it would sell. And it did!  It was an awesome experience as there was so much interest – not only in the Tobacco Valley but across the country.  We are encouraged to try in again, perhaps once a year depending on our quilt production.  Sincere thanks to everyone who showed enthusiasm, asked for photos, expressed interest and – to the fine person who bought it.  The photo shows the women quilting during the winter.  Quite the beauty – measured 100″ x 100″ when done.  Very special thanks to CathrynCathryn (pictured below) who finished quilting it after we stopped meeting as a group in March, and to Lynda who did  all 400″ of binding on it.

And as we move into the summer season at the Historical Village, we are being cautious about keeping our community and our volunteers healthy and safe.  We have currently postponed opening the museum, planning to announce dates in June. So please stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful park down at the Historical Village. Please remember to leave it as tidy as you find it. Thanks.

 

Go figure

This is a great opportunity for you. And it is also a story.

IMG_2498When information about COVID 19 penetrated the northwest corner of Montana, it only made sense to start sewing face masks. After all, we had fabric for quilts, lots of thread and sewing skills (some of us more than others).  So serious face masks making began.  At first we used fabric from the Historical Village because we have a stash there for future quilts.  But as word spread in the community about our endeavor, individuals began donating fabric.  We weren’t concerned about colors or patterns as long as it was 100% cotton, a tight weave and clean.

Boxes of fabric came in and were sorted so women in the community who were sewing face masks could easily pick up a bagful.  A front porch in town became the exchange station: fabric dropped off in boxes, fabric picked up in bags, freshly sewn masks delivered back to the porch, and then masks picked up by the good citizens in our valley to wear.

I must admit we didn’t pay attention to patterns when sorting fabric. Mostly it was enough effort to get bags of fabric to those who needed them, and the finished masks distributed in the community. Until two days ago when posting on Facebook with a photo that free masks were available, activity began to seriously pick up and caught our attention.  In that photo was a face mask made from Seattle Seahawks fabric.  All at once – people were not just asking for masks, they were asking for those masks. And within a very short time, all the Seahawks masks were spoken for.  Betsy had made those masks and she heard about the demand.  Unfortunately, most of the Seahawks fabric was already used up. Most! but Betsy had some snippets left which she pieced together so now in this valley we have two (2) Seahawks masks that are available.

All the  face masks we made since March have been freely given to whomever asks, as we are glad to see people wearing them at the post office and the grocery store.  But we decided we would put these two up for a donation to the Historical Village.  If you are a Seattle Seahawks fan and are interested in sporting these masks, get in touch with Rita (collinsrita@yahoo.com).  She will drop them off if you live in the Tobacco Valley or mail them to you if you live farther away, in exchange for a donation to the Tobacco Valley Board of History. First offer received will get the masks (too busy sewing to hold an auction).  Thank you.

Changes

Well, let’s start with what’s not happening at the moment and then move on to current activities.  Our winter fundraiser scheduled in March with the awesome Canadian band, The Wardens, was cancelled as the diligent thing to do considering all the factors.  Although we were very sorry to miss the opportunity to have these musicians perform here in the Tobacco Valley, it only made sense for them to be home and for us not to be gathering.  Friday quilting has been postponed for the foreseeable future and this is Jessquiltingcertainly a tough one to accept.  It made all of us realize that although one reason we sew together is to raise money for the Historical Village, a bigger part is sitting with this remarkable group of women, sharing stories, sharing laughs, offering each other love and support.

Despite the challenges of missing our Fridays together, there are things we are doing even while observing social distancing.  Cathy organized sewing face masks for the local medical clinic and a number of quilters helped on this.  Carmen shared her delicious tamales which makes any day seem much brighter.  Sally is busy getting seedlings and such ready for May gardens.  Lydna has a new puppy.  Cathryn took the quilt we had been working on home (the one we fondly call ‘piano keys’) so it wouldn’t feel bereft alone in the old school house. Despite the gray, snowy weather that we’ve been getting, flowers are starting to push up their first tender leaves.  And the lilac bushes at the Historical Village actually have buds.

No doubt we will be very appreciative when we get back together again.  Perhaps there will be so much talking that very little quilting will get done at first.