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 certainly 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.
It might seem a bit dreary in northwestern Montana but we are feeling cheerful at the Historical Village. Besides Friday quilting which is something you should consider visiting, we are planning projects that will come to fruition in the spring. All the buildings in the Historical Village are owned and maintained by the Tobacco Valley Board of History except one. That one, the small squarish white concrete building, is owned by Lincoln County and has housed various organizations over the years. Currently the Lincoln County Library uses the back space in that building for their used book sales. The front area is rented by TOPS for weekly meetings. The Eureka Chamber of Commerce which used to be housed in that building had a large sign frame in front of the building. Over the years, the sign weathered and after the Chamber moved to their new location, the county told the Tobacco Valley Board of History they could use the sign frame if they wanted.
Now we are working hard to come up with information for a new sign that we hope will be beneficial for locals as well as tourists. We are going through our extensive photo archive to find pictures that will support the new text. Our goal is to have a beautiful sign ready and up by Rendezvous Days in April. Fingers crossed!
We are also getting ready for our next big fundraiser. The Wardens will perform in Eureka on March 14th starting at 4pm at the Community Hall (Lodgecraft building), tickets at the door. This is an easy way to support the Historical Village. Any of you who experienced the Wardens at their Trego show in 2018 know they are one fabulous band – both their music and their storytelling. We believe it will be a sell out event so plan to get there early on March 14th and grab your seats.
It does seem the ideal time to think about trying new things. No doubt there are people out there who make New Year’s resolutions to learn a new language or take up skiing or make Cha Siu Bao (pork dumplings) and actually manage to do it. We can take this as a sign that it is never too late to learn a skill, to take a different path, to try something new. Many of our quilters are fine examples of this.
Recently we began to set up the next quilt we will be working on. We had carefully put together the frame and measured to be sure to center the fabric for the quilt back. Tacked the fabric all around and then realized the back had been pieced. There was a seam down the middle but it hadn’t been ironed flat. A detail we were determined to correct despite numerous sighs that this would require untacking the fabric in order to take it off to iron. Then Cathy and Lynda had the brainstorm to iron the backing while it was on the frame. Although some of us scoffed at this idea, they actually managed to do it and do it well.
Although we have been around long enough to realize that not everything is possible – there are quite a lot of things that are which are worth trying. As we begin 2020, we hope you consider trying something new to support your community and help yourself along the way. We all certainly have a lot of potential waiting to be put to good use.
January 3 10am at Historical Village – Board of History meeting. Public welcome
March 14 4pm at Lodgecraft Building (Eureka) The Wardens Concert!
Quilting every Friday 10am – 3pm at the old school house in the Historical Village.
All at once the summer finished up and today the museum at the Historical Village will close for winter. The quilters met last week at the old school house to begin their season. They set up the first quilt to work on, a lovely Dresden plate design that belongs to a woman in Oklahoma. After discussion about which pattern to use for quilting, we settled down to sew. We hadn’t met as a group since the middle of May so our needles and thimbles felt a bit rusty but in no time at all we were in the flow.
A woman in Rollins, MT won last year’s raffle quilt. A lovely lavender one pieced by Vivian Vanleishout and quilted by the women at the Historical Village. This year’s raffle quilt is one of my favorites. Each of the quilters made 2-4 unique blocks from various shades of blue and rose that Sally selected. After piecing them together, the fun began as each block needed to be quilted differently. Raffle tickets go on sale soon and then next August at the county fair, a lucky winner will be selected. It could be you (if you buy the right ticket). You are certainly welcome to stop by the old school any Friday between 10am – 3pm to see this special quilt.
As you put together your schedule for the upcoming season, you want to keep in mind a few important dates. On Wednesday, November 27, the Tobacco Valley Board of History will have a Pint Night at HA Brewery. A dollar for every beverage sold will be donated for maintenance of the Historical Village. Always a fun evening (this is our third annual!) with a huckleberry pie to raffle and great music. Be sure to come out to enjoy the evening with us.
On March 14, another great fundraiser is a concert in Eureka featuring The Wardens, an awesome Canadian band who performed here in 2018. Songs and stories of the backwoods, wildlife and life as a ‘government cowboy’ will fill the evening. The concert starts at 4pm; tickets available at the door. More details to follow.
And just in case you live in the Tobacco Valley and are interested in learning to hand quilt or volunteering, know we would be glad to see you. Stop by the school house in the Historical Village on Fridays when we are quilting to find what you might do.
Where does summer go? In northwest Montana, the season whizzes by with days at the lake, out of town guests, the rodeo, the quilt show, the county fair, the garden, huckleberry picking, and those other activities that you might fall into depending on your inclination. There was fishing and hiking, the Patsy Cline play which was a winner, getting a start on firewood, putting up pickles, and family reunions. Did you see this year’s Shakespeare in the Park? Run in the annual Roodell race? Eat pancakes to support the Animal Shelter (July event) or the RiverWalk (August event)?
Now as we teeter on the end of summer and the beginning of fall, there is a mad scurry to get things in order. Kids return to school, the firewood does need to be gotten in and all those last minute outdoor projects finished up. Maybe if you are retired, you start thinking about a visit to Glacier Park or some long distance traveling around the country when vacation spots aren’t as crowded. Or for young parents, maybe it is just a relief to have a regular schedule again as the school year begins.
Perhaps after the flurry of summer, you think about changes you want to make this coming fall/winter. It might be time to consider taking up a new hobby. The quilters at the Historical Village begin meeting on Fridays starting in September. Stop by if you want to learn to hand quilt or even how to tie a quilt. Or maybe you decided now is the time to become more involved with this community. The Historical Village has numerous events that can use volunteer help: rummage sales, book sales, Pint Night at HA Brewery, the holiday bazaar and our winter music fundraiser. Or perhaps as we slip into fall and winter weather, you are looking for some good reads about this region. Now is a perfect time to stop by the Historical Village museum to pick up books by local authors or ask for suggestions. The museum store closes for the season on September 2 so don’t put it off. Here are a few titles to get you started:
“Indian Trials of the Northwest Rockies” Darris Flanagan
“The Montana Christmas Tree Story: A Historic Saga of Boom and Bust” Darris Flanagan
“Tobacco Valley” Gary Montgomery
“The Book of Yaak” Rick Bass
“The Wolverine Way” Douglas Chadwick
Stop by for a picnic or to bring out of town guests. Spend time exploring the museum. Let the kids play and climb on the old caboose. Stop by the old Fewkes Store in the Historical Village to pick up gifts, souvenirs, a special something for yourself or for a friend. There are baby quilts, books about the Tobacco Valley, post cards, pine needle baskets, tea towels, tied quilts and others that are sewn with tiny stitches. There are scrubbies that are great for doing dishes and art bags for children. There is handmade jewelry as well as greeting cards. And the proceeds from anything you buy goes towards helping to maintain the Historical Village.
You might wonder what sort of expenses pile up with this group of old buildings, the stretch of lawn under shady trees. The Historical Village is fully maintained by donations and volunteer labor. This summer alone we are looking at renovations to the bell tower on the old school house, oiling the logs of the Baney House, and starting work on the fire lookout. Of course there is also lawn maintenance, keeping the bathrooms in good shape and the utility bills paid. The Historical Village gets a lot of use in the summer – thousands of folks when you count all the visitors who stop by (the museum is open everyday from 1:00 – 5:00pm) and special events. Shakespeare in the Park performs here on July 30 and the Eureka Montana Quilt Show happens on August 3.
We hope you have time to enjoy the Historical Village this summer. There really is an awful lot here to take in.
The women who quilt on Fridays are hopeful. Sun comes through the school house windows making our space delightfully warm. It also helps us see the stitches we make, the patterns we follow. The old overhead lights in the school house aren’t the best and there’s discussion about replacing them. What would be economical as well as provide the best lighting for quilting through long Montana winters?
But today most things look possible. The sun helps. Yes, there’s still snow outside but it is not nearly as deep, and walking to the school house from the parking lot is so much easier than it was a month ago. There are times when it seems a video of these women might convey more of what they do to support the Historical Village than a blog. Our quilters slogging through snow on a frigid Friday morning, the pile of boots and coats accumulating at the door as everyone sits down to quilt would certainly be a piece of the footage.
This past Friday some of us didn’t even wear coats as it seems just possibly we are on the verge of Spring. There was talk about the fundraiser we held at the Trego Civic Center a few weeks back and appreciation for everyone who came out to support that. There was talk about the book sale we will have during Eureka’s Rendezvous. There was talk about the work that needs to be done over the summer, possible repairs, painting, etc. And, of course, there was talk about the beautiful quilts we are working on. One belongs to a friend of Sally’s, pieced from fabric the woman’s mother-in-law saved from her children’s clothes, fabric that was put away in the 1950s and now is being finished into a quilt to be used.
The other quilt (as we usually have two going) was pieced by a woman in Oklahoma. The design and fabric are by Kaffe Fassett, a name most of us didn’t know but now we do. A man who obviously has quite the eye for colors and designs and the ability to put these together in amazing ways. We muse whether he might want us to hand quilt one of his own quilts as we all believe hand quilting lends such a different feel. We see he’s doing quilt events at a museum in England this month and wonder if he might enjoy Eureka in the summer, perhaps for the Quilt Show on August 3rd. There is a mixture of laughter and excitement. The group doesn’t have expectations for fame but there is always thoughts about how to spread the word about the Historical Village and our work.