High Country Quilters Guild, Inc.
25 Years Later
June 21, 2015
By Kathy Kelsey with Elsie Orrell
High Country Quilters is celebrating 25 years of quilting in Maggie Valley by presenting their 25th annual quilt show October 8, 9, and 10, 2015 at the Maggie Valley Town Hall. What has been the story of the Guild through the years? The best start is to delve into the documentation, read the minutes and review the newsletters of past years. And then to give insight into the printed word, a talk with a member of the group for many years will bring the printed word to life and Elsie Orrell is best placed to lend her voice. .
How appropriate that the Guild joined the Quilt Trails of Western NC by donating the “red school house” block to the Town Hall. In addition to all the students who passed through the old school house (now the town hall), many quilters have been educated about quilting in that building. Many changes have occurred over the years, people coming and going, forming new quilting groups, etc. but High Country has survived those changes because of the common bond of quilting. As of the 25th year celebration the Guild has over 60 members.
The High Country Quilters Guild (formerly Haywood County Quilters Guild) was first created through the efforts of Juanita Metcalf and Margaret Biondi. The Haywood County Quilters Guild met for the first time June 21, 1990 at Victory Baptist Church Fellowship Hall in Maggie Valley, NC. Those in attendance were: Fran Douglas; Billie Rich; Lillian Scrani; Emma Lee Higgins; Alyne Bradley; Evelyn Mills; Ann Johnson; Flossie White; Ernestine Parton; Marie Jones; Donna Gibson; Juanita Metcalf; Maxine Martin and Lillian Scrani’s sister, Madeline Care, guest. The minutes of the last meeting were approved as read and the Treasurer’s Report was given showing a $210.54 balance. Juanita Metcalf made an announcement that the Quilt Show would be held Monday July 2 through Saturday July 7, 1990. The members voted for the name High Country Quilters Guild, Inc. to be the corporate name. High Country Quilters Guild, Inc. was officially incorporated as a non-profit corporation by the State of North Carolina on the 2nd day of August 1990. The Articles of Incorporation were later registered with the Haywood County Register of Deeds on August 16, 1990. The purpose of the non-profit is “To promote and perpetuate the art of quilting through regularly sponsored classes, seminars within Haywood County in the State of North Carolina. Other projects designed to preserve, continue and advance this art form may be sponsored at the discretion of the Board of Directors.” The initial Board of Directors was 7 in number. Emma Lee Higgins was elected as the first President of the Board of Directors. The same day the Articles of Incorporation were recorded in Haywood County, three of the members resigned.
The first quilt shows in 1990 were under the direction of the Haywood County Quilt Guild and after the incorporation of High Country Quilters Guild, Inc., the members began planning the second and third quilt shows to be held in July, 1991 and 1992 at the Maggie Valley Methodist Church. Elsie Orrell’s first meeting as a member was November 21, 1991. She was later nominated as Treasurer after the first Treasurer moved away from the area Elsie remained as Treasurer for several years. Later Elsie was given an Appreciation award for her outstanding service to the Guild in getting the tax-exempt status, organizing common goals, and serving as treasurer and librarian for several terms. Years after this award Elsie then served as President for 2 terms.
At the meeting held August 20, 1992 the Guild set the dates for the July 1993 show to be moved to the Maggie Valley Community Center. Flossie White was selected to be in charge of the quilt for raffle, that is now called the theme quilt, for 1993. At the September 17, 1992 meeting the Guild proposed moving the meetings to the Maggie Valley Community Center as the Guild was given the use of “one half a room” for their meetings and classes. The group voted to stay at Victory Baptist for the general membership meetings and the Board of Directors began meeting at the Maggie Valley Community Center and Town Hall starting September 24, 1992. The regular membership voted to move the meetings to the Community Center in December 1992, although, the move did not take place immediately. After the decision to move to the Maggie Valley Community Center, three members resigned.
At the October meeting Elsie agreed to help publish a newsletter for the Guild along with Nell Teague. Elsie also chaired a committee to apply for tax-exempt status for the Guild because most of the Guild’s endeavors were charitable, e.g., quilts for aids babies, crafts to benefit the Brian Center, Christmas gifts for local children, gifts for Hospice and Reach. Elsie was rewarded with a quilting book for her persistent work in getting tax-exempt status for the Guild.
At the Guild Board meeting of January 1993 the directors voted to move the Quilt Show to the 2nd or 3rd week in October at the Maggie Valley Community Center. This meeting the membership finally moved to the Maggie Valley Community Center starting February 1993. An important note from the April 15, 1993 meeting was to inform the members that since mass production quilts are coming from other countries in order to insure the future of American made quilts, it is important that quilters should label handmade quilts properly. The minutes of several early meetings in 1993 were cancelled due to snow and/or ice.
The Board meeting of November 17, 1993 shows the Guild holding two shows, on both July 8 and 9 and October 6, 7, and 8. Cookbooks were also prepared with recipes from various guild members and sold at the shows. Flossie White served as Publicity Chairman for both shows. During the February 1994 board meeting, it was announced that one of the Guild founders, Juanita Metcalf, was now a nationally certified quilt teacher and judge who would speak at the February 1994 meeting. At that meeting, Juanita talked about “What Makes a Winning Quilt.” She explained that quilt judging is based on piecing technique, stitching, colors, eye appeal and binding.
The quilt shows in 1994 actually had “Tea Rooms” and it was the first time the show included vendors. The Tea Room featured finger sandwiches, cookies, etc. and was served in the cafeteria at the Community Center. The Guild membership met one time at the Museum of N.C. Handicrafts or Shelton House in Waynesville.
The Guild first joined the American Quilters Society (AQS) in October of 1994 and continues the membership today. The Guild donated money to American Quilt Defense Fund at the Smithsonian Institute. Every year the Guild donated a portion of the Quilt Show ticket sales to the Maggie Valley Town Hall for the use of the facility.
Much of High Country Quilters is about community, so in July of 1999 the Guild began “Community Quilts.” Members of the Guild went to the Flossie White Room at Town Hall on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to make quilts for the current project.
Over the earlier years the Guild featured “Let’s Make a Block” in each monthly newsletter as follows: Grandmother’s Fan for a quilt show name tag; Double 9 Patch; Heart and Home block; Ohio Star; Churn Dash; Twin Sisters; Scottie Dog; Bow Tie; Hearts of Maggie; King’s X; Snail’s Trail; Friendship Star; and Paddle Wheel. The inclusion of a block in the newsletter inspired new members and others to try something new.
The Guild has often had a fat quarter exchange at the monthly meetings. Members are given a monthly color choice of fat quarters for the entire year. The members brought 2-3 fat quarters per month and exchanged with other members.
The Guild has done several “mystery quilts” over the years. The members are given clues each month about the quilt to be created. Everyone has different fabrics and it is fun seeing the finished quilts in many different fabrics and colors.
A recent fun project was the “shoebox quilt.” The members who wanted to participate filled a plastic shoebox or project box with fabric they liked. Each month that member passed her box to another member to create a quilt block. At the end of a given period each participating member had 6-8 blocks finished for her quilt. The Guild actually had Shoebox 1 and Shoebox 2.
At the monthly meetings the Guild still has a fat quarter drawing or a 2-1/2” strip drawing. If the member wishes to participate, she brings the appropriate color or themed fabric named in the newsletter. Someone draws the name to one of the participants and she wins the bag of fat quarters. Many times the Guild has door prizes for each meeting.
The Guild sometimes has a “clutter table” where members bring in their unwanted quilting tools, fabric, etc. Other members can bid on those items and take them home. The Guild sometimes has “round robins” where 4 members give a demonstration of their favorite quilting skills and share them with other members.
In 2010 the Guild was asked to make 12 inch blocks for the Haywood Arts Council. The blocks were displayed at the Arts Council show room. The work with the Arts Council led the Guild to a milestone in Guild history. The Arts Council was the Quilt Trails of Western Carolina coordinator for Haywood County. Several members of the Guild became involved with the Haywood quilt trails and a move began to donate the first quilt trails block in Maggie Valley to the Town of Maggie Valley. April 26, 2011 the “Little Red School House” block was dedicated at the Town Hall.
In 2010 after the 20th Annual Quilt Show it was announced that the town would move the show from the first weekend in October to the second weekend in October.
In early 2012 the Town of Maggie Valley moved the police department from the Town Hall to the new office building on Summit Road. The Guild could no longer hold nighttime meetings at the Town Hall because no officer would be available to lock up the building after the members left. The Guild struggled to find a place to meet and the Waynesville VFW allowed the Guild to use their facilities for several months. After those months the VFW needed the space back so the Guild then moved to the American Legion for a short time. Then First United Methodist Church in Waynesville offered a room for the evening meetings. The Guild currently has their meetings on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at First UMC.
The Guild mourned the loss of two long time members in 2010 and 2012, Rosemary Evans and Billie Rich. Rosemary could always be counted on to finish a project first and loved being in charge of the bake sale at the quilt shows. Billie was one of the last “hand quilters” left in the Guild.
- The Guild has shared quilt racks with the Asheville Quilt Guild and visa versa.
- Wendy Bowen’s husband made bookshelves.
- Alyson Nelson’s husband made bookshelves.
- Fred Ross made quilt racks.
- Many husbands help set up and tear down the quilt show every year.
- Annual summer picnics have been held at Shady Grove UMC as well as other churches in Maggie Valley.
- Annual Christmas parties have been held at members’ homes as well as local restaurants.
- For many years the Guild had a social with refreshments a half hour prior to each meeting and 2-3 people volunteered to act as hostesses.
- Flossie White did Publicity for many years and the room at the Maggie Valley Town Hall now known as the Flossie White Room was named after her.
- Ruby Koontz, sister to Elsie Orrell, served as Treasurer for many later years. Ruby does not quilt.
- Bernice Spitzer joined the Guild February of 1997 and has been in charge of the craft room for many years, assisted by Gail Holt.
- Sharon Jones provided the pattern for the bears received by children given to Reach, Haywood Regional and law enforcement.
- Shop Hops started in this area in July 2001.
- Early High Country Shows featured a craft room and a tea room and were held the first week in October. Now the shows have vendors, a craft room and a food vendor.
- The annual Quilt Show is the second week end in October at the Maggie Valley Town Hall and Pavilion.
- Over the years High Country Quilters had as many as 113 members, including summer residents.
- The Guild had one male member, Paul Johnson, who was a prolific quilter.
- The membership also has several members of the Shady Ladies and the Asheville Quilt Guild.
- During the Presidency of Norma Boate she asked all officers and chairwomen to keep a notebook of their duties.
During the Presidency of Norma Boate, Louella Warren (now Stringfellow) was named Guild Biographer. In each monthly newsletter Louella would do a biography on a long time Guild member and a relatively new member.
- Billie Rich: At the time of her bio Billie had been a member of the Guild over 21 years. She learned quilting from her mother who liked the quilting to be done right. At the age of 12 Billie helped her mother quilt, making her first quilt by herself at age 19. She doesn’t know how many quilts she has made but she likes traditional quilts, does hand quilting and pieces by hand and machine. Billie’s other interests are basket-making, macramé, knitting and smocking. Billie passed away in November 2012.
- Louella Warren Stringfellow: At the time of the bio Louella had been a member for 3 years. She has lived in Haywood County all her life and learned to sew at age 5 on a Singer Treadle. Louella remembers sitting under her mother’s quilting frame near a wood burning stove in the living room. She also remembers getting scolded by her mother for making quick movements under the frame thus causing her mother to stick her fingers. Louella has taught Sunday school class and does primitive rug hooking, feed sack collecting/quilting, quilting with necktie fabrics and gardening.
- Flossie White: Louella enjoyed the interview with 89-year-old Flossie White who was visiting from Virginia at the time. Flossie was a charter member of High Country Quilters. She said a group of quilters met at Victory Baptist in 1985 and she remembered all the fun the ladies had learning new techniques and sharing them with each other. Flossie was from Newport News, VA and met her husband who was from Maggie Valley there. At the time of the interview, Flossie had been quilting for 70 years. She sewed at the knee of her grandmother at age 5 and made her first quilt top of 4-inch blocks at age 13. When not in Maggie Valley, Flossie lived in Tabb, VA. Louella had great pleasure talking with Flossie because she maintained such a youthful and positive attitude. Flossie had seen many changes to the Guild over the years.
Quilt Shows and Theme Quilts
Many people who attend the annual Quilt Show do not realize how much work and preparation it takes all year to put on a show that lasts 3 days; From the creation of the theme/raffle quite, selling tickets by each member; at other events in the area; and at the show, to advertising the show, to getting volunteers to set up and work at the show, to getting vendors and food vendors, to setting up all the quilts and accessory decorations/taking down all the quilts, etc. and working the craft room and the grand finale…the drawing of the winning ticket for the quilt. Before the show actually starts the Guild members have already started on the quilt for the next year and so it goes.
The 25 the theme/raffle quilts
- 1991 Mariner’s Compass
- 1992 Dresden Plate
- 1993 Baltimore Album
- 1994 Grandmother’s Fan
- 1995 Apples in the Dogwood
- 1996 Waste Not, Want Not
- 1997 Jack’s Chain
- 1998 May Basket
- 1999 Ladder to the Stars
- 2000 Friendship Flower Garden
- 2001 Stars Over Maggie
- 2002 High Country Roads
- 2003 a Christmas quilt
- 2004 Bargello wall quilt orange and blue
- 2005 Sunshine and Flowers
- 2006 Smoky Mountain Patchwork
- 2007 High Country Splendor
- 2008 High Country Sampler
- 2009 Timeless Treasure
- 2010 Spirit of the Mountains
- 2011 Civil War Remembrance
- 2012 Bear Foot in the Mountains
- 2013 Mountain Breeze
- 2014 High Country Celebration
- 2015 High Country Lilies
High Country Presidents:
- 1990-1991 Emma Lee Higgins
- 1990-1992 Maureen Walther
- 1994-1995 Joan Forbes
- 1996-1998 Dot Crowell
- 1999-2000 Maureen Walther
- 2001-2002 Joan Forbes
- 2002-2003 Norma Boate
- 2004-2005 Rosemary Evans
- 2006-2007 Elsie Orrell
- 2008-2009 Kay Ross
- 2010-2011 Elsie Orrell
- 2012-2013 Alyson Nelson
- 2014-2015 Mary Glance
Charities Over the Years:
- American Quilt Defense Fund – cash donation for National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
- Autumn Care – lap quilts (23)
- Balsam Nursing Home – lap quilts
- Broyhill Children’s Home -bed quilts
- Canton Health Care – 16 quilts
- Community Care of Haywood County – quilts
- Cruso Fire Department – memorial cash donation
- First Baptist Church of Maggie Valley – memorial cash donation
- Foster Grandparents – cash donation for senior gifts
- Haywood Christian Ministries – Christmas gifts for children and food donations
- Habitat for Humanity – memorial cash donation
- Haywood County Animal Welfare – memorial cash donations and later pet beds
- Haywood County Health Dept. – cash donations
- Haywood County Meals on Wheels – cash donation
- Haywood County Schools Foundation Upchurch Book and Technology Fund – memorial cash donation
- Haywood Regional Medical Center – Baby quilts (32) and infant supplies
- Haywood Regional Hospice Foundation – cash donations
- The Homestead Hospice Residence – quilts
- Haywood Regional Emergency Room and Haywood Regional – stuffed Bears and Bunnies for children
- Home of the Brave – quilts for military
- Honduras Missions – 60 baby quilts and other supplies
- Kids Advocacy Resource Effort (KARE) – cash donation
- Lake Logan Volunteer Fire Department – memorial cash donation
- 211 Military Police Division of National Guard – Operation of Love Wraps (85 quilts for children of the MPs)
- Mountain Home emergency shelter for kids 5 years to 18 years– quilts
- Great Oak Quilting Club – fabric donation
- Maggie Valley Library –Redwork wall hanging
- McCracken Rest Home – bibs for seniors and lap quilts (21)
- McCune Center – memorial cash donation
- Quilts for Japan – quilts
- Reach – stuffed bears, quilts and cash donations for victims of domestic violence
- Salvation Army of New York City – memorial cash donations
- Sarge’s – cat and dog beds
- Catman2 – cat beds
- Strollathon – queen sized quilt to support Rhett Syndrome Research
- The Open Door Ministry – quilts
- Town of Maggie Valley – cash donations for use of facilities over the years
- Town of Maggie Valley – red work quilt for library
- Town of Maggie Valley – quilt for 200th anniversary of the Town founding
- Town of Maggie Valley – Quilt Trails of Western NC Little Red School House block for front of building
- Western Carolina University Mountain Heritage Center – cash donation
- The Shirley Barksdale Foundation, Inc. – memorial cash donation
- VA Hospital Asheville – many quilts over the years
- Quilts for Heroes is an ongoing project headed by Donna Sharp and Andrea Tilmont. The object of the projects is to make quilts to send to Germany to give to wounded servicemen and women for them to have a quilt to cover him or her in the plane home. The goal for 2015 is 100 more quilts this year. The Guild displayed the quilts at the 2015 show.
The bylaws and rules and regulations have been changed over the years to adapt to the changing times. Many people have come and gone through the Guild and come back again. The tools have gone from frames and hand quilting to rotary cutters and die cutting machines. The newsletters have gone from snail mail to email. But the spirit and challenge of creating a quilt for that special person in our lives still remains in all of us.
Congratulations to the High Country Quilters Guild, Inc. for 25 years of quilting and quilt shows! Well Done!