Ever want to get away and sample a real part of Americana? Try this year’s third annual St. Mary’s Quilt Show, where the motto is “Beautiful Church. Beautiful Quilts.” I would recommend a slight modification. After meeting them to write this story, I think it should read, “Beautiful Church, Beautiful Quilts—and Beautiful People.” St Mary’s 3rd Annual Quilt Show is Friday April 28, 2017 from 9:00am to 5:00pm and Saturday April 29, 2017 from 9:00am to 3:00pm at St. Mary Catholic Church, 8227 County Road 205 (FM 1774 and St. Mary’s Drive), Plantersville, Texas.
The Quilt Show is the brainchild of Lorraine Nilson, a retired former project manager. “My daughter is a quilter who now lives in Tennessee, and she began to encourage me to learn to quilt. So, I started and really enjoyed it. That led to a small local quilt group. Then I looked on Pinterest and saw a beautiful photo of a beautiful church in Canada that had a quilt show by displaying quilts in their church. So I thought with our church being a very beautiful and historic church that it would be a natural place to do a similar quilt show.”
Inspired by the photograph, and with help from good friends like Paula Allison and Margee Manning, Nilson presented a plan to her local pastor, Father Ed Kucera, pastor of St. Mary. While dining, the pastor was shown the photo of the church in Canada, and then the question came. “Do you think we could do something like that here? At St Mary’s?” asked Nilson. An emphatic yes was the answer from Father Kucera.
“Paula, Margee, and I talked about our goals for the show. We wanted to have a ﬁrst-class quilt show that was unique. We wanted people to come to our beautiful church and experience a day to remember. One of our key decisions was to not charge an entry fee for the quilt show. We didn’t want anyone to have to pay to enter our church. We would request donations, and if we had any proﬁt, we would donate it to the St. Mary/St. Joseph Society of St. Vincent De Paul. This wonderful organization assists people in need in our community, so it’s reach outside of our church seemed like the perfect match.”
St. Mary not only boasts the inner beauty of its sanctuary, but takes pride in its lovely gardens peaking just as a new spring is burgeoning. Guests may also dine at the very popular Dresden Plate Café.
“We needed to raise some money to get started. Besides the Friends of St. Mary’s Quilt Show, who donated their personal funds, and our generous local business sponsors, we were able to raise enough money to cover our expenses before the show took place! Bravo,” Nilson said.
“Next, we needed to spread the news of our upcoming show and ﬁnd vendors who wanted to take a chance on us. Paula, Margee and I visited many quilt shows and quilt shops to talk with vendors and many quilt guilds to present our show to quilters. We traveled all over Houston and beyond. We needed attendees, and we needed quilts. We were thrilled to be received so warmly and, in a few months, our vendors and quilt entry forms started coming in,” she said.
“You might wonder how could so few people possibly put on a quilt show? Let me tell you, the volunteers at St. Mary’s and a few surrounding churches are amazing. In fact, we had over 120 volunteers! Many are not quilters, but loved the idea of welcoming people to our church. Patty Jones was the coordinator of the volunteers and their schedules. Organization at its ﬁnest! Our volunteers are the key to our success; the friendliest people you could ever meet,” continued Nilson.
“We decided to reward our ﬁrst year sponsors, donors, and vendors with a Gala Preview Dinner the night before the show. Shanon Salsbury and his St. Mary’s Men’s Club volunteers prepared a delicious dinner, and guests were treated to cocktails and a seated dinner complete with waiters. The pièce de résistance—an evening preview of the church, festooned with 125 glorious quilts. Our church choir sang as our guests were overcome with emotion at the ﬁrst glimpse of our ﬁrst show. Personally, I will never forget that evening!”
Despite threats of inclement weather, more than 1,300 people turned out for the first ever St. Mary’s Quilt Show. The new Dresden Plate Café served more than 600 lunches.
“For our second show, St. Mary’s Quilt Show 2016, we had a few additions. We decided to have entertainment during the lunch hours. Friday was the men’s Salvation Army Harbor Light Choir. Saturday was the ladies Chordbusters.”
Quilt guilds are invited to enter quilts as a group and receive recognition for their guild’s support. Guilds, along with the quilting community, have worked together and shared their talent. Hundreds of quilts are expected to be displayed, with all the color and vigor of a thriving pastime.
What new things may we expect this year?
“We added an additional display of quilts under the pavilion, Red White and Beautiful. It’s energizing to see beautiful red and white quilts hanging from the rafters and dancing to the breeze. We added a Photo Op location on Father Ed’s front porch, covered with quilts. This is a great opportunity for guests to commemorate their day with their cell phone cameras.
This year, we added more shuttles to assist people from the parking lot. We have set up a welcome table to assign entry times to the church in order to avoid standing in long lines waiting your turn. People can shop, stroll the gardens, have lunch, or listen to the music.”
More than 1,600 people enjoyed the show in 2016. Last year, more than 900 meals were served at the Dresden Plate Cafe. With more expected this year, they are expecting to overcome their only drawback.
“Our only problem last year was that too many people came at one time on Friday morning, and some could not stay for their assigned time. I know most people say, ‘Too many people is a good thing,’ but it literally broke my heart to turn anyone away. We have plans to ﬁx that for 2017,” Nilson said.
“Now, on to St. Mary’s Quilt Show 2017, April 28 and 29. I can tell you that producing this show is my passion. More people have come forward as volunteers, and we have a great time. What a congenial group! We love having you visit our church. So please accept my personal invitation to support us as a sponsor or with advertising if you are able, join us for our Gala, enter your quilts, and attend our show. You will not be disappointed. In addition to experiencing a unique, exquisite quilt show, St. Vincent De Paul beneﬁts from the proceeds. Now that is a win-win.”
For more information, visit stmarysquiltshow.com.