Friday, August 7, 2009

County Fair Quilt Block Contest and Raffle

Our local fair has a great quilt block contest and raffle. It was one of the first things to make me want to get involved at the fair. It works like this:

Year one: 60 kits are sold (for $5) containing fabric to be made up into a block according to that year's theme

Year two: the blocks are turned in to be judged. Money prizes for places 1 through 6. The top 20 squares will be made up into a quilt to be raffled off.
The winning blocks for the theme "My Stars"

The winner of the raffle is announced at the end of Fair Week. The winner gets to chose the sashing, border and binding fabric and have a say in how it will be finished/quilted.

Year three: the final assembled quilt is displayed at the fair and the winner gets to take it home.

So every year, you can buy a block for next year, see this year's blocks, and see last year's blocks put together into a quilt.

What has amazed me each year is what a difference putting it all together makes. The year before the "My Stars" quilt, they had a snowman theme. The blocks were nice, but even as I was buying raffle tickets, I was thinking, "meh...not my thing anyway." But look at the assembled quilt:
I think it turned out great! I would have been very happy to win it.

Extra bonuses: in year two, up to six blocks are given honorable mentions and made up into pillows which are sold through a silent auction.
The winners get to take them home at the end of that year's Fair Week.

My first year at the fair, I figured out what was going on.

My second year, I asked about a kit but found out they were sold out. (They go fast.)

My third year (this year), I got it all together and managed to buy a kit. This year's theme: Spirit of America. (Those who know me will appreciate the irony.)

It's some very stiff competition. This year's block winner was also the Grand Champion Quilt winner. She obviously knows her stuff.

Last year's blocks were all pieced. This year's blocks (with the theme of "Bountiful Baskets") were mostly appliqued. Tricky tricky.

One reason the competition is so stiff is that the prize money is some of the highest for Folk and Home Arts. Whereas my knitting "premiums" are $3 for first, $2.50 for second and $1.50 for third, the quilt block premiums were from $30 to $15 for first through sixth. (Yes, indeed, big money.) However...the year that I get involved the premiums have been halved. This from the Fair website:
In recent state cuts, 100% of the funding that supported county fair premiums was eliminated, leading fairs throughout the state to evaluate whether or not to continue to pay premiums, and if so, at what level premiums would be paid...All classes in Departments 1 through 106 listed in the 2009 Cass County Fair Premium Book premiums are reduced by 50% [there are some exceptions but nothing related to Folk Arts]
I guess $15 (half of $30) is still big money compared to $1.50 (half of $3). I'm not in it for the money but I have to say it is part of the fun.

The website goes on to add:
A majority of response received with regard to premiums indicated that trophies, rosettes, and ribbons were more highly prized than premium monies. Further action was taken at the June 9 regular board meeting that no premium checks will be issued in amounts of $4.99 or less...And, exhibitors will also be given the choice to simply sign off and return any premiums they would have received back to the fair.
I'm not sure "I'm not in it for the money" is going to mean I refuse it if offered. We'll see.

Whoa, this post has taken a detour. Back to the quilt block. I need your help, people!

"Spirit of America"
stripes? stars?
surely there's more to the idea of America than the flag?

And of course, I need it to stand out (as a winner) and yet work well with the others in a quilt. (If yours is too "unique," I've noticed it tends to be made into a pillow instead. They like the quilt blocks to work together.)

I've got two dark reds, a dark blue, a black and a medium tan which has to be the background fabric. 12" block size.

I'm eagerly awaiting your ideas, brilliant or otherwise. You know I'm going to be writing all about the making of this block, so you may as well tell me to make something you're interested in hearing about!


  1. How about a Native American dying of a European-borne disease. Or a slave working in a southern plantation. These might have to be made into a pillow!

  2. Wow, David (or Lisa?)! Maybe I should have specified that I want to WIN...although past evils should not be ignored in the history books, I'm not sure the fair wants to address them. And I'm not sure I'm brave enough to even attempt to address them in a 12x12 block. Perhaps if you submit design ideas it would help me along. I look forward to seeing what you come up with! -christina

  3. My first thought was "as American as apple pie." Apples? Pie? LOL

    Maybe a round block, sectioned like pie slices? (And of course, finished into the 12x12 block.)

    Does it have to be an original design, or can you use someone else's published/known quilt block design?

  4. How about the Statue of Liberty?

    Kudos on getting the kit & good luck in making it up!

  5. Aimee...that's a very good thought! I will definitely stir it into the "stew" which is my thought process...Thanks!

  6. are right on the same track I was on. I don't think I can do a literal portrayal of the Statue, but I am thinking about how I could maybe make a New York Beauty (aka Cinco de Mayo) block that could remind you of the Statue's crown. (Or whatever they call that thing on her head.) I'm still in the early mulling-it-over stage, though. Thanks!

  7. Oops, to answer your question, Aimee, you are allowed to use a traditional, published, or personal design.

  8. Thanks for your comment, Betty. Please do not advertise for other sites without asking me first.


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