A quick Internet search will bring up hundreds of quilting events all over the country. But no place has a quilt show quite like Sisters, Oregon.
Known today as the largest outdoor quilt show in the world, the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (SOQS) began in 1975 when Jean Wells Keenan hung her students’ quilts outside her shop on a Saturday in July. This casual gesture turned into an annual event that now, 37 years later, draws people from all over the world.
“An economic impact study conducted a few years ago determined that our events leave $1.7 million in the Sisters area economy,” says Executive Director Ann Richardson. “That’s entirely made up of spending from people outside the area … Clearly this event is significant for a town the size of Sisters.”
More than 12,000 attendees come on Quilt Show day to admire the handicraft of quilt artisans of all skill levels. Organizers and volunteers hang more than 1,300 quilts over every available surface in town, including buildings, fences and railings. But the SOQS has developed far beyond quilt displays.
“In the last 10 years we’ve grown the show from a one-day event to encompass an entire month of fun for quilters,” says Richardson. “We’ve become a non-profit organization, built a corps of over 500 dedicated volunteers and established community partnerships to share the proceeds from our raffles and fundraisers with other Central Oregon non-profit organizations.”
SOQS activities include special exhibits, walking tours, lectures, classes and artist receptions, along with events such as the Around the Block Fiber Arts Stroll and the Wish Upon a Card fundraiser for cancer patients.
Quilt Show day is Saturday, July 13th, from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. For a complete list of events, visit the Sisters Quilt Show website.