Our State fair is due to start this Thursday, for the general public. However there is much going on this week before those doors open, and I have had the opportunity to be a little part of that preparation yesterday.
I volunteered my help two years ago to the Superintendent of the textile department. Last year, due to my work schedule all I could do was man the information booth for a period of time. This year though, I got to go in bright and early and assist the quilt judge.
What does an assistant do? Move quilts. Lots and lots of quilts. Fortunately there were 10 of us assistants, and it took all of us to keep things flowing. And with over 250 quilts to be judged in 26 different categories, it was a very long day.
It was easy work though, because each folded pile of quilts in each category was unfolded, laid out on a long table, with the next one stacked on top, until the whole category was on the table. Imagine the pleasure of unfolding quilt after quilt. That's what our whole day contained, all of those beautiful colors and patterns and textures. After all of the quilts in the category were on the table, the the whole thing was folded back in half. It was then ready for the judge, who first looked at each one as they were flipped back down. Then the top quilt was held up by two people while the judge looked at it. Then it was laid flat again on the table, and the judge got down to the serious business of making good and bad comments about the quilt. After the comments the judge decided, release or hold. The releases were refolded and put back in a pile in the right category area, the holds were judged again, to select the first, second and third place winners. Those were folded and stacked on another table, to be judged for the special awards.
After the first two categories, we got a good rhythm going, and still got to watch and listen to the judge's comments. I am not a quilter except in my mind (and I could not have helped as an assistant if I had had a quilt entered) but I found it very interesting to hear what was being judged. Many, many quilts had the negative comment of uneven borders, uneven quilt stitches, binding needs improvement (never use store bought binding!), and quilt needs more quilting. I was impressed with the judge though, because there was always a positive statement, even if it had to be 'good use of scrap fabrics'!
I found it interesting to observe how many quilts fell into a very middle range of skill and design. Only a few just plain looked terrible, and only a few were stunningly beautiful or original. The vast majority were of a known design, moderately well done in the piecing and quilting, and with a predictable use of color. Alone, in someone's home on someone's wall or bed, the quilt would be stunning, but bring everyone's in for judging, and it became almost tedious.
Did all this make me want to run home and quilt? Nooo, but, it did get me thinking alot about what I would enter should I ever wade into that creative river. It would be a stunning design executed over several years, so every stitch was perfect. Yea, right.
The great thing about the state fair, is that every one of those quilts will be hung for display, with the quilters name visable. Everyone gets to come and show anyone passing by, that this is their quilt. If there happens to be a ribbon on it, the happiness will abound even more.
And speaking of ribbons, I am hoping for a few of those myself. More on that later, I will probably post frequently during the fair, because it is a big part of my life this week.