Blue Ribbon Quilts of the Iowa State Fair

on display through October 14th

From Virginia Berger, exhibit curator for Blue Ribbon Quilts of the Iowa State Fair:

Blue Ribbon Quilts from the Iowa State Fair was an exhibit that was both an honor and a treat to curate. But it was a little different experience for me. Normally, when curating an exhibit, I’m given a theme and I look for quilts that fit that topic. I often have an idea of how I want to represent the different aspects of the theme and look for quilts among my friends’ collections and other groups of quilts which I’m familiar with as well as quilts submitted by the public. But in the case of this exhibit, we put out notices that we were looking for quilts that had the distinction of wining a blue ribbon at the Iowa State Fair and I chose from the multitude of pictures submitted.

In making my selection of which quilts to hang, I worked to get as diverse a set of quilts as possible not only as to pattern and technique but also as to location in Iowa as I wanted this to be an exhibit from across the state. When given a choice, I chose older quilts that we haven’t seen in awhile or perhaps had forgotten about. It’s a treat that some of the quilts won when the quilts were still under the grandstand at the fair and were difficult to see. And, for me, the quilts with a story always come to the top of the list so we have a couple of recent winners that have a great story that probably wasn’t readily available to fairgoers.

It was not easy to choose and I hated that I had to turn down many wonderful quilts. But I hope you find the exhibit to be a good cross-section of quilting in Iowa over the past 32 years and that you enjoy my selections.


The exhibit features quilts by the following Iowans:

Norma Abma, Clarinda
Abbie Allen, Grimes
JoAnn Allen, Winterset
Kellie Belden, Madrid
Helen Birchard, Whiting
Cindy Bortell, Winterset
Marty Freed, Des Moines
Anita Gogerty, Norwalk
Marcia Handsaker, Nevada
Martha Henrichs, Des Moines
Deb Kimball, Clive
Martha Klatt, Adel
Serena Linn, Des Moines
Carolyn Magnani, Johnston
Sharon Meisenheimer, Des Moines

Lynne Ott, Webster City
Randall Parkin, Earlham
Teresa Peterson-Smith, Boone
Anna Pilcher, Norwalk
Janet Rabe, Ottumwa
Bonnabelle Rayner, Lone Tree
Tricia Snyder, Waukee
Laura Stephens, Marshalltown
Sherri Street, Runnells
Peggy Vespestad, Maxwell
Helene Viall, Des Moines
Sharon Wasteney, Hannibal, MO
Tamara Watts-McPhail, Des Moines
Betty Whitson, Ottumwa
Phyllis Zylstra, Pella