Quilters display their needlework expertise at Gold Country Fair

By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A piece of American heritage is thriving at the Gold Country Fair this weekend. Two local quilting guilds are keeping their art alive while educating fellow quilters and helping their communities. Needle Nellies member Candy Brown said a lot of people think of their grandmothers quilting and this elicits “warm and fuzzy feelings.” The Needle Nellies are a 17-member quilting group that meets twice a month in Georgetown. The group has been coming to the fair for three years to sell tickets for a chance to win a specific quilt. The winning ticket is drawn at the Georgetown Founders Day celebration Sept. 21, the day after the Needle Nellies have their annual quilt show. All proceeds from ticket sales go to the Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department. So far, the group has raised $26,000 for the department. “They bought lights … a generator for accidents that happen at night, the smoke machine that was for the training facility,” Brown said. “Most of it has gone to the training facility … things to construct that building. These (items) are like extra; it’s something that’s not in their budget that’s like a surprise, and they are very appreciative. In fact the volunteers (of the fire department) help us hang our quilts at the show, which is really neat. They’re the ones with the ladders!” The quilt that fairgoers can view and possibly win this year was designed by Kim Diehl and assembled by all members of the Nellies. “All of us worked on it,” Brown said. “All of the vine and everything on the border, that’s done by hand. I think we did it in not more than six weeks.” It is not uncommon for a quilt to take a year to create, she added. The Needle Nellies also offer a huge knowledge base to area quilters they meet at events such as the fair. They answer questions for those who are unsure about what to do with their particular pieces of fabric as well as give advice for any problems that may come up along the way. These meetings often lead to bonds between fellow quilters. “Wherever you go, you meet other quilters, it’s like instant friends. It becomes like an obsession,” said Mary Ellen Johnson, a fellow Nellies member. The group will be at the fair through today. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5. A second quilting group is also raising funds by selling tickets for a chance to win their annual “opportunity quilt,” this year titled “Garden Party.” This quilt was designed by Joyce Stewart with a block design by Kim Diehl. It was assembled by the Auburn-based Foothill Quilters Guild, which has been in existence for 27 years. The group boasts about 300 members. Joy Myers, a member of the guild, said quilting is a part of history that needs to be preserved. “It’s the heritage of everybody. Everybody has an ancestor back there who quilted,” she said. The winning ticket will be drawn at their annual quilt show on April 5 in the California National Guard building at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. Proceeds from the tickets go back to the guild, but in turn the guild uses the money to make quilts that are then donated to various local branches of community service organizations such as the Salvation Army, Head Start and Sutter Auburn Faith Perinatal Unit. The guild also has a grant program in which they donate funds to those in the community involved in quilt making for a good cause. “One of the high schools wanted to make a quilt to raffle off for their grad night. We gave them the funds to make that quilt,” guild member Holly Dolkas said. The guild also gains proceeds from an annual “Country Store” in the animal barn at the fairgrounds. “The Country Store is like a big yard sale where all the members can clean out their sewing rooms … things they don’t necessarily need, but they might be somebody else’s treasures,” Dolkas said. The guild will be displaying its quilt with a chance to buy tickets through today until closing time. The tickets are also $1 each and six for $5. The Journal’s Bridget Jones can be reached at bridgetj