More than 4,000 expected for Quilt Fest here Aug. 16-20

Published 9:46 am Tuesday, August 9, 2016

If you see quilts hanging in store windows downtown next week, don’t be alarmed.

The stores aren’t closing up shop, but more than 4,000 quilters are coming to town.

A large crowd is expected for Vicksburg’s first Old Man River Quilt Festival, to be held Aug. 16 through 20 at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

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“It was just a dream I had. Mississippi has never had anything quite this caliber. This region hasn’t had anything of this caliber,” Kay Elliot, the festival’s organizer, said, noting that once she realized the need for a quality quilt festival in the region, the decision to organize one was a no brainer.

The Old Man River Quilt Festival will feature 28 unique vendors from across the United States, including Minnesota, Florida and South Carolina. In addition to vendors who will be selling fabric, aprons, kitchen mitts, specialty tools and — of course — quilts, national quilt educators will be teaching classes over the span of the festival on subjects including machine piecing, ruler techniques and hand work.

Elliot, who owns Stitch-N-Frame, has been attending quilt festivals since the early ‘90s and said the years of attending festivals helped her plan the upcoming one.

The festival’s main draw, she said, is the The Supper Quilt, a 67-inch tall by 183-inch wide, 51,816-square quilt depicting the biblical Last Supper, featuring Jesus and his disciples.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for church groups to come see the quilt because it’s a real inspiration,” Elliot said, noting the quilt has won national awards and traveled the country.

The festival is expected to draw thousands hoping to learn a new technique or start early on their Christmas shopping, she said, and for all of her work, she has approximately 50 volunteers ranging from Vicksburg’s downtown merchants, who plan to hang quilts and extend their store ours until 7 p.m. on Friday for the event, to the Vicksburg Quilters and quilters from Jackson as well.

“I have a good committee of people helping,” she said. “Everyone in town has been so helpful. We’re just trying to make it a community event.”

Those in attendance will be able to enter a raffle to win a sewing machine and quilt, vote for the Viewer’s Choice award and have their scissors, knives and sheers professionally sharpened, in addition to a range of quilting classes for a variety of skill levels.

“You don’t have to know how to quilt to take some of the classes,” Elliot said.

Held at the Vicksburg Convention Center, the festival’s kick-off will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 16 to allow those who work an opportunity to experience the festival. For the remaining weekdays, festival hours will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday’s hours will be from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Elliot said.

Each day of the festival is open to the public, and general admission costs $6 per person with discounts for groups.

If interested in group rates or for more information, contact Elliot at 601-634-0243.