When it comes to Red Rooster Days, most folks think of the Labor Day chicken feast, but there’s plenty of other activities to fill your weekend.

The fun starts Friday night with a comedy show by the No Lines Improv troupe at the Dassel History Center and ends on Labor Day with a host of activities ranging from the iconic chicken barbecue and a rooster crowing contest to live music, kids pedal pull and the Golden Egg Hunt.

Nestled among these events is the Sew Friendly Quilt Guild show. It happens every other year, with the last show in 2017 and the next show in 2021.

This year’s theme is Autumn Festival of Quilts. Visitors can view more than 100 quilts on display 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 2, at the Dassel Covenant Church.

The event became part of Red Rooster Days about seven years ago. Before that, it rotated between Cokato Corn Festival and Red Rooster Days. The quilting guild that hosts the show started in the Dassel-Cokato area.

According to Sue Lind, one of the show volunteers, the guild started about 23 years ago. A quilter was looking for like-minded people, so she ran an ad in the local paper asking if people were interested in quilting. The first meeting took place at a local library. There was so much interest, more space was needed and it moved to a church. Today there are about 56 members, age 40-95, who come from McLeod, Meeker and Wright counties.

Lind, who coordinated the 2017 show, said she became interested in quilting in the mid-1990s. Her mom left five unfinished quilts when she died, so she put her foot to the pedal and finished them.

She called quilting a “stress reliever” and said it helped her with the grieving process.

BEAUTY IN BLOCKS

I really can’t say enough good things about this event. I am no seamstress. I have trouble sewing a straight line with a ruler, so I was mesmerized by the designs, colors and skill of these women — and the guild members are all women. It’s a feast for the senses, no question about it.

Work on the quilt show began in November when members started talking about the quilt they would make for their show fundraiser.

The group expects to display about 100 quilts during the two-day show. In addition, several special events are planned.

Probably the most eye-catching is the fundraiser quilt drawing. The quilt, which is titled “Autumn Splendor” is queen size, 84 inches by 104 inches. Members made the blocks and Sue Carlson put it together.

Evvie Hanson, quilt show coordinator, and volunteers Lind and Linda Butzin estimated there were about 100 hours of work invested in this quilt. The estimated minimum value is $1,200.

“We try to get something that people will say, ‘Wow,’” Butzin said.

Quilt guild members have been selling drawing tickets since April. They are $1 each and the money raised is used to rent the church building, pay for meeting speakers and other guild-related expenses. One lucky winner will be drawn at 3:30 p.m. Monday. Unlike some contests, you don’t have to be present to win.

Hanson said she became involved with quilting via her friend, Darlene Kenning. Kenning once taught quilting classes in her home and at church. Hanson took one and never looked back.

“I enjoy it,” Hanson said. “It’s a stress reliever from work. You’ve also accomplished something when you’re done.”

Lind agreed, describing the craft as “relaxing.”

Butzin started quilting at age 5 when her mother taught her to sew quilting blocks on a treadle sewing machine.

“Many people get into quilting to deal with hard times,” she said.

PICKING FAVORITES

Visitors can also voice their opinions via voting for their favorites. Handmade ribbons will be given to the top vote-getters in each of three categories: large quilts, small quilts and wall hangings, and miscellaneous (such as table runners and so on).

New this year is a vintage quilt display that features quilts from 1960 or earlier. There is also a youth quilting display featuring the work of those younger than age 16.

Members will also be selling recipe books.

While the guild members work on their own projects, they also give back via charity projects. Among them is making pillowcases for Ryan’s Case for Smiles. This is the third year of this effort.

The volunteer organization helps kids “feel better to heal better.” Its purpose is to help improve the quality of life for children and their families as they undergo treatment for cancer.

Members are also making fidget quilts for people with Alzheimer’s disease. The lap-size quilts stimulate their senses and provide patients something to do with their fidgeting hands. Unlike a regular quilt that features a specific pattern and fabrics, a fidget quilt is made of different textures such as fake fur, flannel, denim and so on. It also can include notions such as buttons, plastic rings, zippers, snaps, buckles and so on.

Visitors can also look forward to hands-on quilting technique demonstrations, a rummage sale where quilters can find deals on items ranging from patterns to tools and fabrics, and a Craft Corner where handmade items will be for sale.

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