Patchwork Party: quilt show comes to town
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Patchwork Party: quilt show comes to town

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It's not so much a hobby as it is a sport. 

That's how Barb Schoonover describes quilting and if the pattern making, sewing and stitching pastime is, in fact, a sport, then on Saturday, Feb. 1, its superstars gathered to put on a show and teach the rookies a thing or two. 

The third annual Willamette Valley Quilt Show sponsored by Rich's Sew and Vac and Bolts to Blocks, opened a day earlier and by the time the doors closed that Saturday night, organizers expected 3,000 people to come through. 

"Generally, it's to provide quilting education in the community," said Daniel Rich of Rich's Sew and Vac. "And it's fun."

Quilts from 300 quilters hung around the Linn County Fair & Expo Center, vying for the top prize — a $3,000 Baby Lock Soprano sewing machine. Other prizes included a $1,300 machine and a $2,500 quilting shopping spree for the winner of the two-day raffle. 

Bethanie Gambardella isn't a quilter, but she manned a booth at the show both days, selling honey. 

"My husband does all the work, I just sell it," she said in a break between customers who formed a line to get a look at her raw, locally harvested honey. 

Cathy Cunningham is a quilter and set up shop next to Gambardella. 

She operated Summer Minds Quilts out of Corvallis and designs patterns that she then teaches at other quilt shops. 

"It's my second year here," she said. "It was such a fun show we came back."

The show also hosted talks from quilt historians and quilting classes. According to organizers, the two classes held Friday and the classes scheduled for Saturday were all booked with waiting lists as well.

Schoonover said the partnership between her Bolts to Blocks shop and Rich's Sew and Vac was an organic one, bringing together funds to host the event and quilting knowledge to support it. 

She also noted that it reminded the community of its quilting resources and that after the event, her shop saw an increase in business from all over the valley. 

"The partnership was a nice marriage," she said. "And we'll see thousands of people come through between yesterday and today." 

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