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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Airing of the Quilts, the Clothesline of My Childhood Memories


I remember growing up as a child, grandma hanging out quilts and throws on the clothesline. Their intricate and delicate hand stitched squares of mismatched fabrics gently blowing in the breeze. Every year, around this time, the celebration of that history with the “Airing of the Quilts” in Greenwood, evokes the memory.

While many quilts were made out of necessity, this was not their only purpose. They were also representations of family history as precious heirlooms made to mark life’s most important events. Baby quilts were given to new mothers and larger quilts were given to couples when they married, often with symbolic block patterns such as Lover’s Knot or Double Wedding Ring.

Even in death, quilts sometimes played a significant role. During the difficult journey westward, death was common. But scarce wood or lack of time often prevented trail travelers from making coffins. On these occasions, the deceased were often wrapped in a family quilt. Those leaving them behind were comforted knowing their loved one rested in something symbolizing the family’s love.

In early America, quilts were regularly hung outdoors over fences, on clotheslines, and in other display areas to “air.” This served as a way to remove dust and refresh the fabric. Additionally, airing quilts outside provided an opportunity for members of the community to showcase their craftsmanship and creativity while storytelling and visiting with friends and neighbors. Quilting has long been an important craft and socializing opportunity for American women.

Today, the airing of the quilts is most often associated with quilt shows, festivals, and community events. The Airing of the Quilts in Greenwood, Arkansas is a vibrant celebration of local creativity, craftsmanship, community, and heritage. Quilting has been an important part of our area through the years, and we are happy to showcase the talents of local sewists.

There will be special quilt show events at the Old Jail Museum Saturday, May 11. Civil War cannon and musket firing, reenactments, costumed guides, vendors and live music will be featured in the afternoon. The Vineyard Family Quilt Collection will be shown in the 1848 Vineyard Cabin. There is no admission fee to these events. 

This is the 13th year for the event. Airing of the Quilts has grown from a small local show that began at Greenwood’s City Hall to an event that showcases contemporary and vintage quilts in three venues. Additionally, draws visitors from nearby and distant states. The show features two special exhibits, vendors, a silent auction and a raffle. The Arkansas Authors table gives patrons a chance to meet local authors and have their purchases signed. Lastly, the popular Tea Room serves luncheon daily from 10:30-2:00. 

Proceeds from Airing of the Quilts benefit the South Sebastian County Historical Society.

Anyone with questions about quilting or interested in learning to quilt can contact Central Sewing in Fort Smith or their local quilt shop.

While entries to this year’s show are closed, those wishing to be included in the 2025 show can contact Kay Voss at 479-883-0254 (contemporary quilts) or Emily Mitchusson at 479-597-9755 (vintage or antique quilts).

Airing of the Quilts
1050 Bell Park Road
Greenwood, AR

May 9 and 10 (9-5)
May 11 (9-3)

Admission $10
Tea Room $10 (optional)

Three venues. Trolley transportation available. 

“Thanks to the many who have worked to make this show a success, and we appreciate the quilters, volunteers, sponsors, and friends who have participated. And thank you for attending the 13th annual airing of the quilts!” -Donna Goldstein

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Tammy Teague
Tammy Teague
Tammy is the heart behind the brand. Her tenacity to curate authentic journalism, supported by a genuine heart is one her many wholesome qualities.
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