Photos by Asha Fuller
Johnnie Ruth Elrod attended a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Hickman County in early fall of 2006. When a discussion started about what ladies could do while their husbands attended the annual car show, Johnnie, with her love of quilts, suggested a quilt show.
She was given the task of planning and conducting it. The Quilt Show Committee, as they called themselves, decided to make a booklet with photographs of the quilts from the show. They hoped to have 50 quilts at the first event. More than three times that amount, 189 quilts, were brought to be displayed that day.
The quilt show has grown each year. “Our quilt show is set apart because we accept all quilts, no matter how old or new,” remarked David Dansby, President of Hickman County Quilt Guild. “Each quilt has a story to tell, and we want to be the ones to tell that story.”
“It’s great that all these stories are being archived for the future,” stated Mary Beth Pruett. “Also that people are seeing what a rich heritage we have.”
“Good show!” said Nancy Hall. “I’ve got some ideas for my next quilt.”
“One of the best shows I’ve ever seen,” commented Pam Hale. “Love, love, love it!”
The Quilt Show Committee wanted to show 1,000 quilts in five years. That goal was met and surpassed. At the end of the fifth year, the committee had documented 1,041 quilts. A mission statement and by-laws for the group were developed and the name was changed to the Hickman County Quilt Guild.
The Guild wanted to build upon the foundation that the Quilt Show Committee had developed. For their sixth annual show, they decided to open the show to quilts outside the committee.
“The thing I find most interesting about the quilt show each year,” stated Dansby, “is that we never know what quilts are going to show up, and there are always several with great historical interest.”
In 2011, Grinders Switch Foundation was approved as a non-profit, and Hickman County Quilt Guild partnered with them to write grants to hire a professional photographer and graphic editor to develop the quilt books after each show.
Over 1700 quilts have been displayed in the nine years of the Hickman County Quilt Show.
Each year, what is called an Opportunity Quilt has been given away to one lucky ticket holder. The funds raised from these quilts have supported the shows and also allow for participation in other community functions.
The Guild’s community involvement includes Hickman County Fair, Arts & Ag Weekend, Harvest Market, Festival of Trees, Duck River Music & Arts Festival, Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative Quilts and membership in the Hickman County Chamber of Commerce. The Guild designed and made a quilt honoring the 75th birthday of Hickman County Hospital, promoted local tourism, held quilting classes and sponsored and conducted a week of the Summer Reading Program at Hickman County Public Library.
The 2015 Hickman County Quilts Show “The Quilters Voice” will be held Friday, October 2, 2015, 12 noon to 6 p.m., and Saturday, October 3, 2015, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at First Baptist Church in Centerville located at 123 Church Street.