The Eureka Montana Quilt Show was a lovely success. And so many generous people bought raffle tickets to support the Historical Village. Of course there were numerous volunteers helping that day to staff the museum, sell tickets and let people know about our raffle items. Lots of efforts made to keep the grounds and the buildings at the Historical Village looking great and maintaining our valley’s history.
A few more busy weeks in summer before the season ends. On August 21, Shakespeare in the Parks will perform Othello at the Historical Village. And the next afternoon, August 22, all the museum docents and Village quilters gather for their annual picnic. Labor Day is the last weekend that the Historical Village museum is open. Then everything in the buildings will be covered over for winter and the quilters begin to meet again every Friday from 10:00 – 3:00 in the old school house.
Just in case you missed purchasing a quilt during the quilt show (can you ever have enough?), we still have a few beautiful ones for sale. Cathryn Schroeder pieced a log cabin quilt in shades of rust and apricot that was then hand quilted by the Tobacco Valley Board of History quilters. And Vivian Vanleishout pieced a beauty in shades of pale green and lilac that was also hand quilted (queen size). Both quilts are available at the Historical Village.
Congratulations to Laura Persson who won the raffle for the Victorian era quilt!
The first Saturday in August is always lovely in Eureka as hundreds of quilts grace downtown including the Historical Village and Memorial Park. Quilts are hung on buildings on both sides of the main street as well as on every possible surface (and then some) at the Historical Village. Over six hundred quilts will be on display this year.
Besides making sure the Historical Village grounds are in tip-top shape for this Saturday’s event, the Village volunteers will also work to have the museum open and to sell raffle tickets. There is the annual quilt raffle for one of the lovely quilts we made last winter. The drawing for that will be on August 26th at the Lincoln County Fair although raffle tickets can be purchased at the museum anytime between now and the fair. A very special quilt made from small pieces of silk back in the early 1900s will be raffled this Saturday. The Victorian era quilt will be on display at the Village museum all day Saturday and the winning ticket drawn at 4:00pm. Take time on Saturday to stop by the Historical Village museum (Fewkes Store) to see both the Victorian quilt and our other raffle quilt. All proceeds from both raffles go to maintain the Historical Village.
And very special thanks to the Eureka Montana Quilt Show Foundation for their generous gift which helped to cover the expense for renovating the old caboose. Donations from Town Pump and the Tobacco Valley Community Foundation were also received this summer and greatly appreciated. As always, summer is a challenging time with grounds maintenance as well as repairs to roofs and out buildings at the Historical Village. Donations from community members and local businesses and organizations help the Tobacco Valley Board of History continue to provide a pleasant setting for the public and archives of our valley’s history.
The response to our membership drive has been awesome. Thanks to everyone who sent something towards supporting the Historical Village. Of course it is not too late if your form happens to be still sitting on the kitchen table/desk. Just put it in an envelope with your donation, add our address (Tobacco Valley Board of History at PO Box 1452 Eureka, MT 59917), a stamp and you are good to go.
Hopefully you have seen the Great Northern caboose in the Village. Kenny Westbrook just finished the renovation. It is so beautiful – and much more sturdy then it was before. Children are going to thoroughly enjoy climbing on it this summer. And a few lucky adults will get to sit on the caboose steps to watch Shakespeare in the Parks.
The Village quilters stopped meeting on Fridays for the summer but some of their lovely handwork will be available at the Eureka Montana Quilt Show on August 4. Of course there are other quilts available for sale at the museum gift shop all summer. If you are searching for a unique wedding gift or something special for yourself, you might consider one of the tied quilts which are the perfect combination of beautiful, warm and affordable. Yes, here in northwest Montana, one often needs a quilt on chilly summer nights.
I suppose it is no surprise a tinge of ageism creeps in when quilting with this group of women. Our ages stretch from mid sixties to mid nineties. Besides piecing, hand quilting and putting on bindings, these women also set up wooden quilt frames which are large enough to hold a queen size quilt. They schlep boxes with fabrics and other odds and ends when there is a rummage sale. They schlep boxes of books when there is a book sale. They move furniture around in the museum as needed, set up displays and archive the treasures. They trim bushes on the grounds, pick up trash and shovel snow – whatever the season requires. They keep accounts, run membership campaigns, and sell raffle tickets. They oversee construction projects in the Historical Village and often do some of these projects themselves. Two of the quilters recently helped to replace broken slats in the boardwalk.
When there is work to be done, especially this time of year, we look around at our ranks and wonder where some younger people are. Not so much because we can’t manage, but because it seems there are things young people might learn about maintaining their valley’s heritage and running a museum, picking up skills along the way such as grant writing and chinking an old log building. And this is where ageism slips out, while sitting over the quilt stitching. Remarks are made about ‘those’ people who spend too much screen time, or time constantly checking messages on their phones. Or those people who say they would like to help out but it is just too difficult for them to find time on a Wednesday morning or a Saturday afternoon or any other time when help might be needed at the Historical Village.
Thus that tricky sneer of ageism, the shrug of shoulders, the roll of eyes at the group – those young people – who are summarily dismissed. And of course it isn’t true as of course there are some young people who do make an effort, who do show up. Magdalena, delightfully middle aged, stepped up to help on a regular basis at the museum. Madison, who graduates from high school this June, is bringing a group of her high school friends over next week to weed. But as some of the current quilters started helping at the Historical Village back in the 1970s, they wonder where the young people are who will pick up the torch to carry it forward. And young doesn’t necessarily mean teens or twenties. Middle aged is fine for learning the skills we can teach, or bringing skills already honed. As we keep our eyes open for individuals willing to step up, ready to take the torch, we also are going to try hard not to fall prey to ageism.
This quilting season is nearly over. Only a few more weeks and the old school house will be transformed into part of the museum. Tourists will reminisce about the small wooden desks, the old maps showing countries that no longer exist. Children visiting will pull hard on the rope to ring the school bell high up in the belfry. Volunteer docents will open the historical buildings everyday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The quilters will take a break from their Friday routine. Some will continue to sew at home. Others will put their energy into gardening. And of course with summer in Montana, there are always plenty of out of town guests.
Although there is a symmetry to the quilting that happens every Friday from September til May, there are also changes. Renata had the awesome idea to display quilts in the old church over Rendezvous weekend. We received many compliments and one of the quilts sold. A few new people to town have become great volunteers to help with displays in the museum and to help keep the grounds neat. Bev is taking over scheduling docents for the museum. No easy feat to have a schedule that includes having someone knowledgeable to work there every single day of summer. Dianne and a few others are putting together a mass mailing – the first time we have done anything like this. We know we need to find more support for keeping the buildings in good shape, for having volunteers help with projects, for paying bills.
Often we roll our eyes – how many times do we need to explain that Lincoln County owns the land under the Historical Village, but the buildings, grounds and upkeep are managed by the Tobacco Valley Board of History? Since the 1970s, a stalwart group of volunteers have kept this lovely area of Eureka in tact. Items are carefully archived. Old photos filed. Questions answered when someone stops by to ask about the early days.
As you attend Shakespeare in the Park or the Eureka Montana Quilt Show this summer (both events held at the Historical Village), appreciate the grounds, this lovely public space that is so valuable to our community. Consider some small way you might help us maintain it.
Yes, the snow is nearly melted in our valley. There are still patches under trees and on the north side of the old school house but otherwise we see bare ground, mud puddles and a few spring flowers pushing through. The women are hard at it trying to get the current quilts finished by the end of April. That is when things shift for us into the next season.
On April 28, it is Rendezvous in Eureka which mean vendors fill the Historical Village grounds and there is the largest parade of the year down main street. The old school house will be transformed from the place we quilt all winter into a book sale. Stop by if you are in town to pick up some great bargains. Then in May school children take their annual trip to visit the museum. We also have a rummage sale, another opportunity for bargains and to get raffle tickets for a lovely quilt we made. And finally on May 26, the Historical Village announces the summer season. Everyday until Labor Day, volunteer docents will open all the buildings and are available to provide information to visitors from 1:00 – 5:00pm.
So now we are trying to get the last quilts finished up. Jana, a guest from the Czech Republic, has been joining us to learn how to quilt and to share her travel adventures with the women as they sew. Cathryn created a pile of new baby quilts that are perfect to welcome little ones to the world. Sally made some lovely children quilts that are for sale in the museum along with our full size tied quilts and, of course, the beautiful hand quilted ones. If you are in town for Rendezvous or just ambling through the Historical Village grounds on a sunny afternoon, stop by to learn about our valley’s history and perhaps purchase a quilt to support this remarkable space.
We are working on a quilt with a history. I suppose that isn’t so surprising. Many quilts have history. Do you remember that beautiful one made by an elderly quilter from Gee’s Bend? It was pieced from her husband’s old work clothes. She said every time she got under that quilt, she felt as though her husband was still with her.
The quilt we are working on now came from Kentucky. The brother of a friend sent it to me. The women at the Historical Village think the fabrics are from the 1940s. When it arrived in the mail, the top pieced with colored fabric and squares of plain muslin was stiff with age. Bev carefully washed it and washed it, finally getting it to a point where it could be quilted. We found a large piece of muslin for the back. But how to quilt this slightly irregular beauty? The pieced blocks are delicate and also aren’t exactly square. At the same time the colors and patterns are special enough we wanted to do more than simply tie it.
So Cathryn in her wisdom pointed out that we could quilt the plain squares and tie the remainder. What a perfect plan for this unique quilt! A pattern with small hearts was selected. It is a bit slow as the fabric tends to hold the needle but we are getting there. It might be finished by late spring. It is one of those quilts that has a lot of character although who is to say how long it might last. Still it will easily grace whatever bed it ends up on. Hopefully the person sleeping under it will feel cared for.
Doing this quilt is a reminder how it is not always necessary to stick with the usual plan. Sometimes a dilemma presents itself that requires creative thinking. The solution doesn’t have to be !00% of this. It could be 81% of this and 12% of that and 7% of something else, still getting the job done well. Somebody might have looked at this particular quilt top and thought it wasn’t worth saving for much of anything. But as we quilt and tie it, the women remark on the fabrics and interesting piecing. We figured out a solution and are making it work. Yes indeed, it’s a beauty.