Joining quilt fairs can really help hone your quilting skills. At these events, you will find new suppliers and sources for materials, you will learn about new techniques, and you will meet fellow quilters whom you can learn from! Basically, if you are crazy about quilting, it is an event built just for you!
Now, if you aren't aware of this kind of event in your town, ask your local community center if they know of one. Maybe your town doesn't host one, but there could be fairs and festivals in nearby communities, and you can join these instead.
What happens, though, if there are no quilt fairs in your town or in nearby towns? Simple. Why not start your own? Who knows? You may even start a town tradition.
To start organizing quilt fairs, you first need to do a bit of research on how many quilters there are in the vicinity. You can do this by visiting the local quilting supply shops and asking them more or less how many people come in to quilt or to buy supplies. You can also check and see if there are any quilting clubs or quilting classes in the area. The number of quilters there are will dictate the size of your fair.
Next, begin organizing the events at the fair. Try to stick to the main objective of quilt fairs, and make sure the activities will help quilters hone their craft, learn new techniques, meet fellow quilters, and find new sources for supplies. One thing you can do is to ask some quilting instructors to demonstrate patterns and techniques or to hold a kind of mock-class or lecture at the fair. You can have several “classes” or sessions which tackle different techniques. If you can set up small sessions, participants can be very hands-on in their learning experience. Another thing you can do is to invite a local historian to give a talk about quilting. Historical lectures are always interesting, and are often enjoyed by everyone.
Apart from these classes, you also need some kind of contest, which often gets quilters excited. Usually, a simple contest of having a panel of judges choose the “best quilt” according to certain parameters is well received by everyone. Make sure you have prizes for the contest winners. Local shops are usually willing to donate prizes to events like this.
Finally, who will pay for all of this? Well, ideally you will have sponsors that will front the money to pay for the expenses of the event. Try to get local quilting stores to sponsor, and get some other local businesses to sponsor too. Make sure your sponsors see the value in the event. After all, giving you money has to benefit them somehow, right? So let's say most of your quilters are women, stores and products that cater to women's needs are the kind of stores you want to ask for sponsorship. Make sure you give your sponsors suitable visibility throughout the event through banners, audio or visual advertising, a booth if they ask for one, maybe even a speaking spot in the program or a seat on the judges table.
Keep in mind that your main expense is really the venue. Try selling booths to some local food establishments so that your fair's visitors can get something to drink and eat while they're going through the events. At least you won't have to worry about catering!
Sounds tiring? Well, it is! But quilt fairs are fun and organizing them can be really fulfilling! So do something for yourself and your fellow quilters. Organize your town's own fair today!