The Panguitch Quilt Walk Festival

Welcome to the Panguitch Quilt Walk Festival!

Panguitch Utah was founded in 1864 by Mormon settlers sent there to open up the territory.  It is quite south in the state, between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.  The first year of its settlement was very hard.  The winter came early and froze the wheat in the fields, unripened.  People couldn’t make flour from it, so they boiled the hard kernels and ate that.

In the middle of the winter, seven men set out from Panguitch to Parowan, 40 miles distant, to bring food from the more established town.  They needed to be successful in their quest, or their families would likely starve. After about 10 miles, they left the oxen and cart behind to continue through the deep snow. They didn’t get far before they, too, had to stop.  Because of the necessity of their journey, and its seeming impossibility, they held a prayer circle on the snow, while sitting on their bedding – quilts.

At the end of their prayer, they noticed that while they were on the quilts, they didn’t sink into the snow.  They decided they would walk on the quilts, picking them up from behind and laying them down on the trail ahead of them, to get to Parowan.  By walking on the quilts, they were able to walk the remaining 30 miles there, and 40 miles back again with the food.

A new statue of the quilt walk, commissioned by the festival.

I have written a song about this, called Panguitch, and we are here in Utah to sing it at the 14th annual Panguitch Quilt Walk Festival.

It’s a big event. There are classes, a quilt show, trunk shows every day, as well as parallel events all over town.  Yesterday John and I took a walking tour of the town, given by the former mayor. We also attended a chocolate festival the first night, with a silent auction of various things, including a $25 off certificate for your Panguitch water bill.

Chocolate Fest quilt

Last night we also took in the dinner theatre, featuring a play about the quilt walk.  I’m very familiar with this story, since I wrote the song  and recorded it on the most recent quilting CD: “Little Crazy Quilt”.  I was surprised at how emotional I was, watching it acted out by local actors. The final curtain call finished me off:  the seven actors playing the men exited the stage by each one laying his quilt in a line down the centre aisle of the audience.   Then in order, the men picked up their quilts, shook the others’ hands, and walked out across the other quilts.  Very touching. Very lovely.

There’s a medium sized quilt show associated with this festival, and we ran into a couple of people we have met before: the man who made my lovely hand turned wood seam ripper that I bought in Blanding Utah a few years ago; and Don Locke, who made the stunning Last Supper Quilt (we were comparing travel notes, as this quilt and its maker travels almost as much as we do!).

Don and his wife and I in front of his quilt.

Today I was teaching all day – two classes, with lunch and a trunk show in between.  We’ll be doing the trunk show tomorrow.  We caught the tail end of the house tour at Claudia’s home.  There were quilts hanging everywhere, amid the pioneer shacks they have rescued and moved to their yard.

We begin tomorrow with a Rotary Club breakfast. After that, we’ll get ready for our show at noon.  Then, the real festivities begin: a truck pull, AND a quilt walk relay race.  Yes, THEY’RE GOING TO WALK ON QUILTS!  Each team is seven people (to match the seven men from the original walk).  I am definitely going to take pictures of this!!!

Watch this space for more about the Panguitch Quilt Walk Festival.

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2 Responses to “The Panguitch Quilt Walk Festival”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Fantastic post Cathy! So interesting being part of this history. I loved your last post on the Mormons in Salt Lake City too – I didn’t know half of that!

    • singingquilter Says:

      Thanks, Michelle – it’s very interesting to me to be a part of this history too. We’re taking a couple of days to look around southern Utah this time, and there’ll be another post about Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park! Absolutely Beautiful.

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