It started nearly two decades ago when Pat Reese's family and a couple of friends that shared the same vision for quilting got together to present the Peninsula's first quilt show known as Quilting on the Kenai. "It really grew beyond our wildest dreams," says Pat of Robin's Place Fabrics the shows primary sponsor since its inception. "It started at Peninsula Grace Brethren Church and quickly grew to the gym at Cook Inlet Academy and the fashion show with guest teachers coming in every year with visitors increasing in numbers each year," she said.
As the early American art form of quilting experienced a renaissance toward the end of the last century, hundreds of local quilters of all ages caught the bug from visiting the Quilting on the Kenai show for the first time. "I quilted for the first time in 2004, I had some extra wall space and not enough money to pay for art and when I went to the quilt show I was inspired to try it for myself," said Lore Weimer, who is one of several national award winning quilters from the Kenai Peninsula. "Maybe it was the retro or original patterns that sparked the renaissance but it has become the focus of the art of quilting, the selecting of fabric where quilts use to be made out of left over pieces around your home clothing or table clothes now most of the time they are made from brand new, beautiful fabrics that have been developed exclusively for quilt projects. Quilting has become an opportunity for me to express my idea of art and the community of quilters in this town is so welcoming, I was new to the community when I started and have made some wonderful life long friends through our quilting groups and it provides a great break from work and time to spend thinking about something totally different," she commented.
"It's been exciting to showcase our local talent and provide demonstrations and classes on technique during the show that has encouraged ladies and men to go home and try new things. Every time I hear visitors as well as professionals from around the world comment on how talented our quilters are it makes us all very proud," said Reese. While this may be Pat's last Quilting on the Kenai, she's not leaving the business and her Robin's Place Fabrics will remain open as usual in Soldotna. "I have four children, eight grandchildren and I want to teach the new generation to quilt too. I want to take classes and learn more myself and that takes time. I'm not quitting just changing my step and going in a little bit of a different direction. I'm very proud of the show itself and I would be willing to share our eighteen years of experience and statistics with anyone interested in carrying on the show in the future," explained Reese.
Winners of this year's Quilting on the Kenai People's choice awards included: Jeanette Piltro in the Lap Quilt category, Wearable; Zada Friedersdorf , Wall Hangings; Lana Barnes, Miniatures; Lily Heubsch, Applique; Jen Allen, Machine Embroidered Michelle McAnally, Crib Quilts; Donna Tomlinson, Design Originals; Cindy Rainey, Hand Quilted; Tina & John Hall, and the winner in the Youth category was John Grossl. 12 local shops participated in the annual Quilt Walk which drew visitors to local places of business.
Those quilts are still on display and for a complete list go to www.robinplacefabrics.com or call 262-5438.