COUNTRY FARE QUILTER’S GUILD was organized July 7, 1982 in Claremore, Oklahoma by eight local quilters. At the first meeting, Rogers County Home Economist Cindy Opperude presented the founding officers with qualities representing each office. President Maxine Talley was represented by THREAD, as her role included strength and binding together through leadership. Vice President Sara Carpenter was represented by QUILT BATTING, as her leadership through programs added depth and dimension to the club. Secretary Ruby Kennedy received THIMBLE, as she offered security and protection through records. Treasurer Thelma McCormick had a QUILT BLOCK, showing accuracy needed for financial records.
The first year included quilting demonstrations and displays at a local bank, the library, and Wal-Mart, and on Statehood Day, members taught students to quilt at Westside school. Regular monthly guild meetings were established each fourth Thursday morning.
In the early years, members shared patterns, made blocks for each other, and even helped each other hand quilt at home. Each newsletter included a quilt pattern and members hand stitched these patterns at their monthly meetings, then showed their completed blocks the following month. Occassionally a teacher would visit to show needlework or fancy stitches, but everything was cut with scissors. There were no rotary cutters and mats until around 1985, so cracker boxes, cereal boxes, and even newspaper and milk jug plastic was used for templates. Quilt-in-a-Day representative Pat Knoechel caused a big excitement with her first visit and all the new gadgets, books, and rulers that quilters didn’t yet know how to use. The guild still looks forward to Pat’s annual visit each September.
The Road to Oklahoma quilt block was presented by Ruby Kennedy to become the guild’s logo on February 24,1983. Membership grew to 15 members by the end of that year. First meetings were held in the Civic Center, then Aunt Carrie’s Country Cottage, the Old Armory Building, and finally in our present home at St. Cecilia Catholic Church. The first raffle item was a pair of quilt frames made and donated by Frank Carpenter in 1982. The following year members stitched and hand-quilted the guild’s first donation quilt, Road to Oklahoma in rust/brown print, gold, and off-white, which was given away at Will Rogers Day. Today, the guild holds an annual fabric challenge and members’ blocks are recognized by Viewer’s Choice awards at our annual quilt show. The blocks are then made into our donation quilt and given away at the following year’s quilt show.
In 1993, Nora Littlejohn organized a Quilting Bee on the second Thursday morning each month for the purpose of working on projects of one’s own and sharing ideas. They first met in members’ homes, then moved to St. Cecilia Catholic Church, where the Bee still meets. It is open to all members and visitors.
The guild has come a long way from 15 members to approximately 100 members. We now enjoy programs and trunk shows by area and national quilters and host an annual quilt show each October. Guild members donate children’s “Love Quilts” to the Department of Human Services at our annual luncheons in July and December and quilts to Habitat for Humanity dedications.
Membership in the Country Fare Quilter’s Guild of Claremore, Oklahoma is open to any person with an interest in quilting.