With a lineup of quilts dating back to the Civil War, the City of Greenwood will usher in spring next month with the Airing of the Quilts.
The historic tradition serves as a fundraiser for the South Sebastian County Historical Society, providing money for the maintenance and upkeep of the Old Jail Museum Complex in downtown Greenwood.
Members of the Alpha Delta chapter of the Epsilon Sigma Alpha sorority sponsor the event, which facilitates the display of quilts at three locations around town, said Donna Goldstein, member of ESA.
The event will celebrate its 10th anniversary Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4 in Greenwood, a part of a larger event that honors the seasonal opening of the buildings of the Old Jail Complex.
Goldstein said the event gets its name from a time when, after a long winter’s use, quilts needed to be freshened. At the onset of spring, quilts would be laid out in the fresh air and sunshine, which became known as the “airing of the quilts.”
Vintage quilts will be displayed at the Old Jail, and other quilts, vintage up to 1990, will be displayed at the Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church, according to Emily Mitchusson, retired teacher and former curator of the Old Jail Complex.
All of the vintage quilts have been hand-quilted and most have been hand-pieced; there is a Civil War Era quilt, as well as pieces from the 1880s and the 1890s. Mitchusson said vintage quilts are provided by ladies in the community, most of which have been handed down through family generations.
“When you go to get the quilt, they start telling you stories. They give the quilts prominence,” said Mitchusson.
A third location in town, the Senator Ed Wilkinson Pavillon at Bell Park, will display contemporary quilts. There is no cost to view quilts at the Old Jail or Presbyterian Church, but to view quilts at Bell Park there is an admission of $5 per person. There is also a ladies lunch each day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m each day at the Pavillon. The cost for the meal is $8 per person.
Kay Voss, ESA member and committee member of the inaugural event in 2010, said everyone can identify with the quilts.
“Quilting is one subject that everyone recognizes,” Voss said. “Men, women, children, all recognize quilting.”
She said the idea of the Airing of the Quilts fits into the cause of the historical society nicely.
“Quilts are meaningful to families across generations,” she said.
Ann Akins, treasurer of ESA, explained the sorority is a philanthropic organization that supports local, state and international projects as well as providing college scholarships. The South Sebastian Historical Society is the local organization the body supports.
"The South Sebastian County Historical Society was organized in 1963," according to President Rick Hendrix, "to preserve and showcase our heritage. We appreciate the efforts of ESA members and our volunteers in creating a successful Quilt Show and Museum Opening each year. The funds generated help with the costs of operation and support special projects."
At present, ESA has only five members. Because of its small size, Akins said volunteers from other organizations, like the historical society and Belle Pointe Quilters Guild, are vital to the success of the event.
A special exhibit displaying quilts by Donna Moreton will be a part of the Bell Park experience. Voss said Moreton was chosen for the quality of her award winning quilts. She is known for whimsical quilts, applique and calendar quilts. About 12 of her pieces will be available for viewing.
There are events both days in conjunction with the opening of the Jail Museum that include Civil War & US Marshal reenactors, the firing of a Civil War cannon, blacksmith demonstrations and dulcimer playing, among others, Mitchusson said.
The event has grown in each of its 10 years, with visitors attending from 11 states, according to Meryl Ware, vice president of the historical society.
Greenwood residents are encouraged to join the festivities by displaying any quilts they may have on their porch that weekend for visitors of the quilt show.
For more information about the event go to https://www.facebook.com/GreenwoodQuilts/