Well, Sisters’ main annual event — the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show — has come and gone, and what a show it was! Now in its 39th year, the onetime one-day festival has gradually evolved into an international quilting extravaganza — with with more than a week cram-packed with activities geared toward serious quilting enthusiasts. Its reach now even extends far beyond Sisters — with related quilting events in Black Butte Ranch, Bend and Redmond.
This year’s theme was “It Takes a Village,” and, when it comes to the world’s largest outdoor quilt show, it certainly did: According to the Bend Bulletin, the festival drew 10,000 to 12,500 quilt fans, relied on the help of more than 550 volunteers and had about a $1.7 million economic impact on Sisters.
Last Saturday, more than 1,400 quilts were on display in just about every nook and cranny of downtown Sisters. They blanketed shop exteriors from top to bottom, were clipped onto makeshift clotheslines in front and back yards, adorned the lawn of the Sisters School Administration building, hung alongside every type of fine art within Sisters’ many galleries, filled makeshift tents scattered around town, graced the walls of clothing boutiques and dining establishments alike. It was a quilters’ nirvana.
Even non-quilters like myself could appreciate the handiwork here (hey, in my youth, I was a fierce embroiderer). Although the festival officially ran from 9 am to 4 pm, the show was in full swing even earlier. I spoke to one gallery owner who arrived at her shop to set up at 7 a.m. — only to find folks lined up and waiting to get in. And contrary to common wisdom, this show isn’t strictly a tourist affair. The gallery owner said the majority of her early attendees were locals (even she was surprised).
By the way, this isn’t a show that can be experienced in an hour (plan at least three or four, if you go next year). The seemingly infinite possibilities — from intricate classic patterns to eye-popping optical illusions, from elaborately conceived landscape vistas to impressively life-like pet portraits, from large-scale to pocket-size — defy description. They keep you pressing ever onward, in search of one more “Wow!” just around the corner. Chances are, at this quilt show, you’ll find it.
Here’s a quick tour of the show, in pictures.
About the Author
Lisa Broadwater, GRI, CDPE, is a Central Oregon-based real estate professional who specializes in listing and selling homes, especially in Sisters, Tumalo, Bend and Redmond.