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Manteca Quilters show a must-see experience
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• WHAT: Manteca Quilters’ 30th Anniversary Quilt and Cloth Doll Show
• WHEN: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• WHERE: MRPS Hall, 133 North Grant Street just off East Yosemite Avenue
• TICKETS: $7 each; children 12 and under free (Strollers on Sunday only)
• INFORMATION: (209) 825-4832

You learn something new every day, so the saying goes.

But there are days that offer rare opportunities to learn a plethora of new things. An example of that is the Manteca Quilters show this weekend. You definitely learn a lot of new things after spending even just a few hours at the show. I know that from first-hand experience.

This year, this must-go-to event is taking place at the MRPS Hall on Grant Street just off East Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca. And it promises a chock-full of new things to everyone, quilters and non-piece-makers alike. This year, after all, marks the Quilters’ 30th anniversary.

Since the 1980s when I first found out about it, I can’t remember a time when the quilt show was not such a big attraction. I recall some years when the event had so many highlights I thought they would never be able to top that one. There was one year when they had entries to the Cloth Doll Show coming all the way from Australia. And I still remember one year’s show when award-winning Manteca Quilters member Yone Glover had some really unique purses that she offered for sale in the show’s perennially popular boutique.

Unique is probably an understatement to describe the dainty one-of-a-kind and extremely elaborate cloth purses that she painstakingly made. I was particularly impressed by one bag that she made. If you lay it flat on the table, it looked like a simple square handkerchief with a pair of tassels. But you gather the tassels together a certain way and voila! A sophisticated handbag that looked like a flower! Then there was the quartet of really intricate ladies’ purses that she made origami-style. The height of creativity and craftsmanship that went into the making of the pastel floral purses elevated them to works of art, as far as I was concerned. I also recall a few that she made out of old genuine Japanese kimonos she had purchased in Japan. She had bought the old kimonos during visits to that country with the intention of recycling them into purses. Those who were fortunate to snag one or two of them did not just acquire something utilitarian but a historical piece of art.

The two-day show coming up is taking the quilting experience to new creative heights. In addition to the hundreds of original quilts that will be on display, world renowned quilter, artist and television quilt show co-host and producer Alex Anderson of Northern California will be there. According to information we got from the show organizers, Anderson will not be just a visual appearance to draw the crowds but a teaching presence who, we’re told, will be there to meet with other quilters and answer questions about quilting from anyone. If you miss her on Saturday, you will have another opportunity to talk to her on Sunday. By the way, she is also the show’s featured artist.

If I can hazard a guess, I think the reason the Manteca Quilters schedule this event for two days is to give people enough time to cover everything that’s there. That’s how many there are to see and admire and learn from at this humongous happening. The quality of the art work in the displayed quilts is such that you don’t want to just give them a quick glance-over but to linger for a while to absorb the talent and workmanship and creativity that are inherent in each piece. They are amazing pieces of art, especially when you stop to think and marvel as to how on earth could someone have enough patience to painstakingly put hundreds of delicate pieces together, or to sew dozens of intricate appliqués by hand on just one large wallhanging. The experience really opens your eyes to the fact there are so many talented quilters out there who are truly great artists in their own right. Their creations are awe-inspiring.

In the grand scheme of things, the $7 admission you pay at the door – children age 12 and younger are admitted free – is a small investment you make for all the things you learn and get out of the show. Who knows, you may even get to be the lucky person to win one of the big-ticket prizes being offered in the equally popular Opportunity Drawing portion of the show. There’s the opportunity quilt, for example, that features an original design by Nicole Chambers and was made by Vicki Aksland and quilted by Peggy Treat, all Manteca Quilters. Up for grabs in the drawing also is a cloth doll created by doll artist Donna Perry. Then there’s the drawing for a special prize being offered by the show’s featured artist to commemorate the guild’s 30th anniversary: a day-long private quilting lesson at her studio with a free lunch thrown in.

I’m sure the Manteca Quilters, currently headed by the group’s president Janet Dyk, will be grateful to all those who will be purchasing tickets for the Opportunity Drawing. This is part of their fund-raising efforts to keep the guild going.

Should you get hungry or thirsty while you’re browsing, just stop by the show’s Café catered by Manteca’s Main Street Café. MRPS Hall is also centrally located in downtown Manteca where a number of lunch venues are available barely a skip and a hop away from MRPS, such as the Kelly Brothers Brickyard Oven restaurant housed in the historic El Rey Theater on Yosemite Avenue.

One other thing: the show also has booths where one can purchase quilting materials including a wide selection of fabrics, plus books on quilting for your reference collection.

Saturday’s event will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.