Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Grand Unveiling

(L-R) Me, Merry, and Monica with our GO! Mini Totes adorned
with special wool flowers the AccuQuilt team made for us....
Are you enjoying your peek inside my prize-winning trip to Nebraska? - well, today I thought I would share with you the actual Barn Quilt Unveiling. For those of you who are new to my blog, AccuQuilt holds a Barn Quilt Design Contest each year (2012 marks the third year for this creative competition)...the basic premise - design a barn quilt block for display at AccuQuilt's Headquarters. Being born and raised in Iowa, I definitely have rural ties and a fondness for barn quilt designs...in fact, I have entered blocks in the contest all three years (to learn a little bit more about the barn quilt movement visit: http://www.accuquilt.com/barnquilt/facts.html).  Over 100 prizes were awarded this year - including $25 in AccuQuilt Rewards Points to each entry that made it to the Top 100 Blocks. The Top 100 Blocks were narrowed down to 10 by the voting public (a special thank to those who voted!)...and believe it or not, there were more than 25,000 votes....then the winner was chosen from the Top 10 by a panel of celebrity quilting judges. Well, imagine my shock and delight when I won the grand prize this year!! My prize included a $1,000 AccuQuilt Shopping Spree (yeah, I will definitely be putting it to good use - I just have to narrow down my wishlist of more than 50 dies!) and a trip for myself and a friend to the Barn Quilt Unveiling  Event and the 2nd Annual Let’s GO! Quilt Retreat in Fremont, NE....yes, you all know I was in "heaven". The last couple days I shared all about the retreat and the VIP tour of AccuQuilt's new headquarters...and today, I am sharing with you the Barn Quilt Unveiling Ceremony.

Lining up inside AccuQuilt Headquarters
 to meet Alex Anderson...
Two large buses full of exuberant quilters loaded up on Main Street in Freeport, IL on Friday morning to travel in style to the Barn Quilt Unveiling. Country Traditions got everyone excited during the ride by handing out a pair of quilting sunglasses to each attendee - seriously - the lenses had quilt blocks printed on them...and the frames have a quilt block on each side. As we arrived at AccuQuilt, we could see a large tent for the outdoor events and of course my winning quilt block (17' x 17'), which was completely covered by a blue tarp until the unveiling. Excitement was brewing, as we were all going to be meeting celebrity quilter Alex Anderson (you know, from the long-running HGTV television show Simply Quilts)!! Upon departing the buses, we were each given one of Alex's books, so we could get an autograph...then we all set out to enter the building and line up to meet one of the biggest stars in the quilting world. What a treat it was to watch Alex in action - she was so generous with her time, posed for photographs with each attendee, signed everyone's memorabilia...and the smile never left her face, which is a true testament to her gracious and kind personality! I watched Alex on Simply Quilts for years and she has always been a "friend in my head", so to meet her was a true honor.

After the meet-and-greet we headed through the warehouse to the big tent outside...and who did we run into immediately?? - Steve Nabity, CEO of AccuQuilt...who took the time to pose for photographs - and even had the idea to climb up onto the combine on display (for those of you without a farming background - a combine is a 
machine that harvests grain crops) for a fun photo op with me and a couple of my friends (special thanks to Lee Nakamoto at AccuQuilt for taking this photo with my camera to commemorate the moment)!

(Top to Bottom) Steve Nabity, me, Monica, Merry

...and here is a photo of (L-R) Steve Nabity, me, my friend Merry, and Greg Gaggini (president of AccuCut - sister company of AccuQuilt - a whole new branch of addiction)...don't they look great in their cowboy hats and boots?! (Thanks to Monica for taking the photo with my camera!)

Then it was time to have a seat in the tent for the start of the unveiling event (and you guessed it - I was in the center of the front row!) - first Steve spoke to the crowd...then he introduced Alex Anderson for her presentation. Steve addressed the audience wearing a pair of the "quilt sunglasses" we received on the bus...and I managed to get a great candid shot of Alex sitting off to the side (with her signature smile), next to all the great door prizes. Alex's presentation was delightful - she spoke about her history in quilting (right from the beginning), with an amazing slideshow of personal photographs...she talked about her family...and she encouraged each and every quilter in the audience to continue their creative path, grow, and even step "outside their box"....her passion and enthusiasm for quilting was evident...and her warm, inviting personality captivated the entire audience...the entire presentation touched me.

After Alex inspired everyone in attendance, it was time for Linda at AccuQuilt to talk about the Barn Quilt Contest and announce the winners - first she brought up Carol, the 2nd runner-up winner to the stage...and then she announced me. Both Carol and I had been warned we would be given the microphone for a few words - 30 seconds to be precise - and I was actually prepared...in fact, I knew exactly what I wanted to say...but when the time came, she only asked me about my block and I didn't have a chance to say what I had planned. So, for those of you reading, here goes - I really wanted to thank everyone at AccuQuilt - everyone at Country Traditions - my fun fellow retreat attendees - and all the voters who so kindly voted for my block for making this trip a dream come true...then I wanted to take the last of my 30 seconds to take a photo of the crowd so I could remember the moment - I wanted to have everyone wave at me/my camera....in all actuality, I didn't get to say any of that or ask the crowd to wave, but I did get a good photo of the crowd before they dispersed to help celebrate the moment.

I enjoyed seeing everyone scurry out to see the unveiling of my quilt block - the crowd formed all around the display and we waited anxiously for the tarp to be removed....

And when the tarp got caught in the upper corners, we continued to wait...until the hero (Greg Gaggini from AccuCut) made his way to the roof of the building with a long piece of wood to free the tarp from the corners...and the suspense continued to build...

Finally, the tarp fell free and my winning quilt block was unveiled! For me, it was kind of a surreal moment...the 17' x 17' block seemed HUGE...and even more exciting, it will be on display for all to see for an entire year....

The tarp breaks free....

Alex Anderson poses with me under my quilt block...

Another shot with Alex Anderson...

Posing for a photo - (L-R) Carol Johnson (runner-up), Steve Nabity, and me...
After the unveiling - (L-R) Carol, Steve, Me

It was a "postcard day" with clear blue skies and a nice breeze...a little warm, but perfect for the unveiling. After my block was revealed, we headed back to the tent for lunch (a delicious plate of barbecue), while door prizes were handed out to very lucky recipients throughout the crowd. It was a lovely way to spend the day...and before I knew it, the event was ending. I guess I better start early on my contest submissions for next year, because I definitely want to do this all over again....and next year the celebrity quilting guest will be Ricky Tims (how awesome is that?!)!

A HUGE thank you: to everyone who voted for my winning quilt block, to everyone at AccuQuilt who made this such an AMAZING experience, to Alex Anderson for making the trip and being so gracious and kind, to everyone at Country Traditions for throwing the BEST retreat EVER, and to all the retreat attendees and  barn quilt unveiling guests - you made me smile...and thank YOU for following my journey - it truly was a FABULOUS adventure. 

Tomorrow I will share photos with you from the Omaha Quilters' Guild Show we visited on Friday afternoon...you will not want to miss this portion of my journey - so many breathtaking quilts were on display....


  1. I am the lucky one I will get to pass your barn quilt at least once a week. I can brag now to my friends that you did it.

  2. It's been such a treat to share your trip with you through your blog. I can feel your delight a thousand miles away. So happy for you, and your quilt block looks gorgeous on a grand scale. You so deserved the award, and trip. CONGRATULATIONS!!! ~Ruth

  3. Again congratulations on your barn quilt block win, Belinda! Terrific photos! What a wonderful adventure and journey!


  4. Very cool! Congratulations!

  5. It was so exciting to be able to spend as much time with you as we did! Hope to see you again next year.

  6. Congratulations on your winning barn quilt! Very neat! We met a few years ago in the Urbandale cross stitch shop and talked about patterns and Punchneedle. Glad to stumble upon you once again!