The animals took a day off on Friday as the Cherokee County Fair moved indoors to feature exhibit winners.

Floral arrangements, household items, baskets, sewing, Christmas decorations, and photography took the stage, but one of the most popular contests at the fair is for quilting.

Anna Hoseney is a quilter and a member of the Aprons and Lace Oklahoma Home and Community Education group that meets in Tahlequah. She is also a volunteer at the Cherokee County Fair, and a superintendent over preserved foods. She explained that quilting is popular because it is an art people can take home and grow up with. They also make gifts that people keep and use.

“My favorite thing to do was to give quilts. To see the smile on someone’s face, especially when they don’t know that you’re doing it,” she said.

While some quilts are designed for couches or king-sized beds, some of the most popular quilts are for children. For my babies, their blanket may be the first time they understand to possess something.

“One of the quilts I did for a baby. I saw her mom years later, and she said that every time her brother goes over to get her quilt, she’ll go, ‘Mine!’ She’ll go and take it from him, and she’ll go and hide it,” she said.

Hoseney learned from her grandma, Glenda McCollum, who was a long-time OHCE member and seamstress for the movie, “Where the Red Fern Grows.”

This year, Bonnie Smith of the Park Hill OCHE took first prize for her blue baby quilt. She won this year because of her hand needlework and because of the alignment of her boxes.

“The Little Dutch Boy, or my mother would have called it Farmer Sam. This was hand-stitched together,” she said. “Everything all flows together. The line from this fishing pole is straight."

She pointed to the corners of the squares and said they matched perfectly, which is not easy to accomplish. For these reasons, Smith won best baby quilt.

Heather Winn, family and consumer sciences educator for Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County and fair organizer, explained that Smith, like many OHCE members, sews primarily for their grandchildren.

For some seamstresses, it is easier to sew clothing. Others prefer quilting.

“My mother also did the same thing. She quilted, but she did not sew. I can sew, but if I try to quilt, it drives me crazy because I am not as specific as I need to be at getting those points just right,” said Winn.

The cost of fabric, sewing machines, string, and yarn means it is not cost-effective to quilt. It is much cheaper to purchase items made in factories. However, the quality is not the same. Many quilters find satisfaction in knowing they made a quilt that will last a lifetime, and that it is something they can personalize.

“It’s a work of art when you get done making a quilt,” said Winn.

Winn learned to quilt from her grandmother, who patched together quilts until her last years of life. Her quilts became her life legacy, so she wanted to ensure each of her descendants received a quilt.

“She had quilts that she made, and they were in the closet, and we got them down, and she had me put down everyone’s name so she made sure everyone had their quilt she made before she passed away,” said Winn.

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