Trenton quilt guilds gearing up for weekend festival

The quilt blocks scattered around Trenton are a sign that the art form is part of the fabric of the rural agriculture town located 35 miles west of Gainesville.

On display at the historic Trenton train depot is a 10-foot block of the pattern known as “Railroad Crossing,” commonly used in the western reserve area in west Pennsylvania after the Revolutionary War. The quilt pattern was painted by Paul Metts in 2014, co-owner of the now closed Suwannee Valley Quilt Shoppe, titled stop FQT-T-7 on the Florida Quilt Trail.

Starting Saturday, the empty old train depot will be adorned with dozens of quilts collected locally and from all over the state.

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And according to event organizer Pat Watson, the 2021 Quilt and Artisan Festival will be bigger and better this year and will make up for the event being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“It’s a lot different his year,” said Watson who has been involved in the event since 2012. “This will be the first time we expanded it and added a movie night,” she said.

The calendar of events are as follows:

  • Friday, March 19 at 6 p.m. – Movie at the Depot and food trucks
  • Saturday, March 20 from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. – Quilts on display, old time craft vendors, antiques, food trucks, antique tractors and demonstrations
  • Saturday, March 20 from 5 to 8 p.m. – Live entertainment with food trucks
  • Sunday, March 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Crafts and vendors

And, of course, hundreds of handmade quilts will be on display Saturday.

More than 80 vendors are scheduled to be on site to sell quilt supplies plus crochet, knitting, woodwork, metal work, stained glass, photography and other art offerings.

“It’s all handcrafted,” Watson said.

The official host of the event is the Trenton Suwannee Valley Quilt Festival, Inc.

Watson said visitors can expect to see 300 to 400 quilts “from individuals and quilt guilds from all over the state.”

Those quilts will hang on the walls of the train depot and on businesses along mainstreet and throughout town.

The annual event started in 2008 when the owners of the local quilt shop wanted to display student quilters’ masterpieces, Watson said. But in 2018, Stephanie and Paul Metts retired and put the shop up for sale.

Along with the Suwannee Valley Quilt Guild, the Springhouse Quilters Guild—located just a few miles from the event location—is hard at work collecting quilts and putting final touches on the quilts members will sell as a way to continue to fund their organization, which was established in 1992. Every week the 65 members of the organization gather to work on projects and enjoy socializing and teaching techniques.

Lois Scott holding flower quilt

Member Lois Scott is in charge of overseeing the gathering of the quilts for this weekend’s event.

“They’re still coming from various people and quilt groups, ” she said. “Some are unusual, new, old or special made.”

Guild members are busy sorting and pricing donated quilts some of which will benefit the guild 100 percent and others that will be on consignment from area quilters.

The festival is along North Main Street and the train depot is adjacent to the old quilt shop 517 N Main St. in Trenton (map here).

Trenton train depot

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