A fair of quilts, rugs and crafts

The annual Simcoe County Quilt, Rug and Craft Fair marks one of the biggest events of the year for the Simcoe County Museum. With a history that dates back nearly 70 years, it is also one of the oldest and longest running events in the county.

“All the guilds in Simcoe County are participating and most do demonstrations too,” said events programmer Kate Dixon. “We do hands-on activities outside for kids and families related to the fair too.”

This year’s fair features broom making with Glen McLean while Terry Sheridan is the resident blacksmith for the weekend. Cheryl Sheridan will be doing sock making demonstrations with a hand crank sock knitting machine. Murray Van Rassel will do rope making demonstrations.

Moonglow returns with live music daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Look for them on the train station platform. In addition, there are lots of shaded picnic tables and nearby concession stands run by the Friends of the Simcoe County Museum as a fundraiser for museum programming.

All the heritage buildings will be open. Explore the Spearin House, an early pioneer home from Barrie; a one-room schoolhouse where all grades did their learning together in rural villages; and the ice-box cellar where food was stored in prior to today’s refrigerators.

A walk down Barrie’s Main Street exhibit transports visitors back to the turn of the 20th Century, into the heart of downtown Barrie. An ice-age woolly mammoth marks the opening to the museum where there are a number of permanent exhibits such as an archeology dig. In the natural history gallery, there is a healthy hive of honeybees. Look for the queen bee, she’s sporting a white stripe on her back.

The fair began as a way of helping Midland celebrate its centenary in 1949. The Simcoe County Arts and Crafts Association (SCACA) showcased 140 quilts at the inaugural quilt and rug show and it became an annual event.

SCACA also ran an annual art show and, in 1959, the two shows were merged into one. SCACA members interested in particular crafts have since formed several specialized guilds of their own including quilters, spinners, weavers, rug hookers and stitchers. Each of the groups, 15 in all, have their own display at the fair to show their work, demonstrate their skills and sell items they have created in the past year.

In 1975, the fair moved to a new home at the Simcoe County Museum and, in 2000, museum staff began to run it. Today, it draws 1,300 people over the three-day run.

“The feature is always the heritage textiles and heritage crafts,” said Shaughna Crew, museum events programmer. “It’s very important for the museum to show these crafts, as an outlet for the guilds to sell their products but also to attract new members. Part of the mandate of the museum is to educate people, in all areas, including textiles.”

The Simcoe County Quilt, Rug and Craft Fair runs from Sept. 14-16. For more details see museum.simcoe.ca or call 705-728-3721.

Photo:  Donna Klein Gebbinck, left, and Barb McCahery, look at some quilts on display at the Simcoe County Quilt, Rug and Craft Fair. It runs from Sept. 14-16 at the Simcoe County Museum. Mark Wanzel photo

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