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Quilt guild marks 40 years

ABOVE: Members of the Prairie Star Quilt Guild and some of the special quilts they've made for the group's 40th anniversary show, on display now at the Red Rock Center for the Arts in Fairmont. From left: Mary Segar, Kathy Luther, Debra Engman, Jane Traver, Elisa Kotewa.

FAIRMONT– The Prairie Star Quilt Guild is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a special quilt show at the Red Rock Center for the Arts in Fairmont. The show, which runs from now until Dec. 14, features winter and holiday quilts, as well as special “40” challenge quilts made by members.

Many members have joined and left over the 40 years of the quilt guild, but Kathy Luther is an original member still involved to this day. She explained how the guild first got started.

“It was started by Carren Pierson and Jean Hatch,” Luther said, adding that Pierson was from Truman and Hatch from Trimont, with ties to Fairmont.

Luther said that a quilting retreat was held at Green Lake Bible Camp in Spicer, which she was in attendance at. After that, several local attendees began meeting to quilt.

As for why they felt it was important to meet, Luther noted that at that time, in 1983, quilting was just becoming popular again.

“When we first started, you either tied it or hand quilted. There weren’t any long-arms,” Luther said.

She said at first they met in Madelia, but also in St. James and even at the library but later decided to just meet at one spot in Fairmont, which is where a lot of the members are from.

“After the first couple of years, we had up to 80 members,” Luther said.

To this day, the group meets twice, once in the afternoon and once in the evening, on the second Monday of the month at Fairmont Evangelical Covenant Church.

There are about 50 members of all ages who come from all over including St. James, Truman, Armstrong and as far as Frost and Easton. They are always open to welcoming guests or new members.

One of the big things the group does is a form of show and tell, cleverly called “sew and share” in which members display different things they’ve worked on.

“If we can we have classes or demonstrations, something we can learn,” said Mary Segar, who has been a member for about 20 years.

The group also does a service project every year. This year it’s making quilts for CADA, Options Pregnancy Center and for Southern Minnesota Quilts for Veterans, a new non-profit which one of its members formed.

As for why some of the current members wanted to get involved with the guild, Debra Engman said, “A friend and I quilted so we decided to try it.”

Segar added that she has learned a lot of quilting tips and tricks through her involvement in the guild.

“I got a new sewing machine and I wanted to learn to quilt to I joined,” said Elisa Kotewa.

The members said that they all help each other when any one of them runs into a quilting problem or a new method or pattern they want to try. They also stressed the it’s always a fun time when they meet and that thy’ve been able to make new friendships with others in the surrounding communities through the guild.

The current show at the Red Rock has a variety of holiday and winter quilts made by members on display, as well as some quilts made for the guild’s “40” challenge,

meaning quilts had to be made with either 40 blocks, 40 pieces or something else to do with 40.

While the show is on display, the public is welcome to come in and vote on its favorite quilt. The makers of the winning quilts will receive a prize.

A celebratory luncheon will be held on Dec. 18 for current and former members of the guild.

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