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.
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.
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.
Thanks to all of you who support Pint Night for the Historical Village, and those who submit memberships for the Tobacco Valley Board of History, and those who come by the old school house to purchase gifts and buy quilts. Thanks to everyone of you who made donations of fabric or checks or time. And of course special thanks to the quilters who sew each Friday and the other volunteers who help maintain the museum. Recently Dave Leeman said, “The Historical Village is a jewel. We’re so lucky to have it here.” Of course I had to agree with him. It’s our community’s history.
All these events help raise money to support the Historical Village. Volunteers bake pies, sew quilts, knit hats and play music so our valley’s museum can be everything you want.
November 21: Pint Night at HA Brewery. 4-8pm. Huckleberry Pie raffle. Live music with Dave Leeman and Al McCurry. $1 from every beverage sold and $1 from every pizza sold goes to the Village.
December 1: Holiday bazaar from 9-4 in the old school house! Handmade items galore with all proceeds going to the Village. Yes its true. You don’t want to miss this.
December 7-21: Every Friday until Christmas, the bazaar at the Historical Village continues. A perfect place to pick up last minute gifts and visit the quilters. 10-3 in the old school house.
Do you want quarterly updates about events at the Historical Village? We now put out an e-newsletter. Leave a comment so we know the best way to contact you.
The women started quilting on Fridays again. We set up a lovely blue one with blocks created by numerous people. It will be a pleasure to decide how to quilt each unique design. No doubt it will take us through til November, and there are other quilts waiting to be done. Thankful to have this pile as it is one of the many ways we raise money to maintain the Historical Village.
To begin this season off, the Tobacco Valley Board of History constructed a strategic plan to carry us through the next three years. The Historical Village was first established in 1971 so now nearly fifty years old. Forty-seven to be exact. Forty-seven years of volunteers fundraising, getting old buildings painted, roofs repaired, exhibits set up, the museum open everyday in the summer. A lot of accomplishments for an all-volunteer organization in a small town. And now we want to plan well so that this can continue for your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Darris, Lynda and Sally fine tuned suggestions from the entire board. Some very exciting ideas that we will begin to work towards making a reality.
Sally will create History Suitcases that can be borrowed by schools and home school groups. Each suitcase will have artifacts, photos, books and other items that students can touch, read, examine and learn from. We also decided to expand our outreach to the community as we begin doing more events at the Village starting this winter. For you not to miss anything, get on our email list so you can receive quarterly newsletters. You can ‘like’ the Tobacco Board of History Facebook page as we will have updates there. And of course we will be putting our quarterly calendar in the newspaper.
We are also building our lists of volunteers. There are summer docents for the museum, quilters, archivists and individuals to help with small repairs and some grounds maintenance. Obviously we need more. People who like to help organize events, help get our calendar out, fix things that need fixing (yes, the teeter totter is on the list), do demonstrations in the summer of skills we don’t want lost.
And an archival room is in the plan! This would be a space that is secure, temperature and humidity controlled and with a place for individuals to do research. This has been needed for some time and now we are ready to take it on – find someone to do the design, raise the funds to build it, and then move the files, boxes and other archival materials into the new space. Once this is completed (remember this is a three year plan) it will open more room in the Fewkes store museum to expand the exhibits there.
We are definitely springing into Fall.
What do New York City, Gee’s Bend, Alabama and Eureka, Montana have in common? Beautiful handmade quilts. On a recent trip to the Big Apple, I was fortunate enough to see an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled Souls Grown Deep. Part of this exhibit featured quilts from Gee’s Bend, Alabama. In 1998, folk art collector William Arnett happened to be going through a small town in southern Alabama and noticed quilts on clotheslines. They were so striking, he stopped to get information about them and eventually bought some. Later he arranged for over seventy quilts made by the women in Gee’s Bend to be part of an exhibit that traveled nationally. They were shown in art museums from Washington, DC to San Francisco, from Houston to Boston. There are books and videos about these quilts and the women who made them. In 2006, the US Postal Service even came out with a set of postage stamps that featured images of the quilts. So for me, it was a remarkable moment to stand in the Met and see six of them displayed. I was so tempted to touch them, lift a corner to see what the back quilting looked like, run my fingers over the colors. But of course I didn’t.
Standing there brought so many thoughts and emotions about the women in Gee’s Bend, about the women who sew quilts in the Historical Village, about the fabrics used in all of these quilts, the friendships as quilters sit together sewing, the designs, the stitches, the talk. Especially this time of year as fall sets in and the quilters at the Historical Village begin meeting on Fridays, we get into a rhythm that will take us through the winter and into spring. Here in Eureka, those of us who quilt with this group are ready to start up again. Whether our quilts will ever grace the walls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art doesn’t matter. Mostly we want our stitches to be even and the knots hidden.
These are dates you surely should remember. The Eureka Montana Quilt Show is August 4th this year. As always this event decorates the entire town with beautiful quilts up and down main street but the Historical Village is really where the action happens. Vendors, a display of mini quilts, quilts on all the buildings and the museum open with its own selection of quilt sales offer a lot to chose from.
Shakespeare in the Parks comes to the Historical Village on August 21 with “Othello.” The play starts at 6:00pm and box dinners go on sale at 5:00pm. This event is always a lovely way to spend the evening so bring a blanket or a chair and get ready for some awesome theater. As always, the play is free to the public. Sunburst Community Service Foundation brings in Shakespeare in the Parks annually with help from Lincoln Electric Coop, Interbel, donations from the community and box dinner sales that evening.
Both fantastic events that are available to anyone to enjoy. Both take place on the Historical Village grounds which are a delight in the summer with the soft grass and shady trees. As always volunteers strive to keep everything well maintained for locals as well as out of town visitors to enjoy. The Great Northern caboose just had major renovation. The museum is getting some roof repairs. The playground equipment and latrines are in fine working order. And Bev has lined out docents who have the Village buildings open everyday until early September from 1:00 – 5:00pm.
It just doesn’t get much better does it? Life in the Tobacco Valley is pretty sweet this time of year so take a morning or afternoon or evening to wander through the Historical Village grounds. Or come for one of the awesome events that will take place. Hope to see you there.