VENICE — Millions of stitches later, members of the Venice Area Quilters Guild have completed another collection of quilted items for their show, “Quilting by the Gulf, a Festival of Quilts” on March 6 and 7 at the Venice Community Center.

Quilts may have begun as a way for early settlers in America to use leftover bits of fabric to fashion quilts to keep warm in the cold winters in the New World.

These days, quilters fashion items of clothing as well as such crafty items as quilted caladiums — that is not a typo — go to the show.

Consider that one of the longest-lived businesses on West Venice Avenue is a quilt shop — Deborah’s Quilt Basket, 537 W. Venice Ave., which opened in March 1984.

“We’ve been here 36 years,” owner Deborah Iverson said. “I will have a booth at the show and there also will be a quilt appraiser at the show.”

Leftover fabrics are still used these days, yet part of the fun is to go to such a shop as Deborah’s and select just the right colored fabrics for a given project.

A leftover piece of fabric from long ago might even be the inspiration for the new project which will be pieced together by thousands of stitches.

To create all the work that will be shown at this biennial show takes hundreds of thousands of stitches by area quilters.

The total output includes items made for display, mini quilts that are donated to benefit the local food pantry and boutique items, said Jean Campbell.

Campbell and Val Wurster have been shepherding this show for close to two years. Both are Venice residents.

“We think this is a new and improved version of a popular show that is making its 18th biennial appearance,” Campbell said. “We changed out some of the traditional ways things have been done and decided to add new ideas and approaches.”

“Some of the traditional audience favorites are returning, of course,” Wurster said. ”But new categories and awards are being added.”

“There will be nearly 200 quilts on display,” according to Beth Cristoffel. “A nationally certified quilting judge, Molly Waddell, will be in town the week preceding the show’s opening to judge quilts in six categories for workmanship, design and appearance.”

“Results and awards are a tightly held secret until the opening of the show,” Wurster said. “Quilt show visitors are encouraged to learn by looking closely at the colors, presentation and sewing involved, as well as to read the comments of the judge.

“One of the most fun aspects of VAQG’s show is the Viewer’s Choice Ribbons,” Campbell said. “Visitors are encouraged to walk, view and read the judge’s comments, before voting for their favorites.

“Not always are the judge’s ribbons and the viewer’s ribbons the same.”

“Centennial Garden,” a large one-of-a-kind quilt, will be awarded to a raffle winner at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Made by guild members, that quilt has been on tour for a about a year at community events. Proceeds from those ticket sales help support the guild’s community service projects

Guild members have donated a record number of mini quilts that will be offered in a silent auction over the two-day period. Proceeds from the sale of these quilts will benefit the South County Food Pantry. “Each day, 50 different minis (less than 80 inches in perimeter) will be auctioned.

Sharon Bottini, of Venice, has been collecting the minis for display and auction.

A large handcrafted gift boutique, with items made and contributed for sale, will have it’s own room in the community center.

“We encouraged everyone to have their donations done earlier this month, but at an informal gathering this week, ladies were still working on items to be offered,” said Jane Jeffrey, who together with Crystal Allan is in charge of the gift sale area. Both are Venice residents.

Among the items offered in the boutique room will be baby quilts, bags and purses, rope baskets, lap quilts, walker bags and decorative items such as quilted caladiums.

There will be many vendors at the show with fabrics and other items used by quilters, other stitchers and some crafters.

Quilt Show 2020 will be open from 9 a.m-5 p.m. March 6, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. March 7, at the Venice Community Center, 326 S. Nokomis Ave. Venice. Admission for women is $8 for one day, $14 for two, and free for men for whom chairs are set aside for their use.

Cafe Venice is providing a Pop Up Cafe for lunch and snacks

The community center is the central building on the block which has become known as the city’s Cultural Campus which also contains the Venice Art Center, the William J. Jervey Jr. Venice Public Library and, behind the community center, the Triangle Inn, home of the Venice Museum.

Beth Cristoffel was the chief contributor to this article

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