Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ogallala Quilt Festival

How can I tell you about some of the nicest people I have ever met in a town that, well, I have to face it, is hard to describe. But I just had one of the best trips of my quilting career.
It starts out with me flying into Amarillo, Texas on a very windy day.  I later learn that is normal for this part of the country. I land and meet my hostess and helper, Rosemary and Beth, holding up my book so I can't miss them. The first thing I notice as we make our way to Dimmitt, Texas,  yes,  I said Dimmitt, TX. What  do you mean, you have never heard of Dimmitt? You really need to get out more. The first thing I notice is there are no mountains. It is as flat as a pancake.  No mountains, not even a little hill.  It's hard for me to know where east and west are because the sun is straight up. This is called West Texas or the Panhandle of Texas. It's so cool, nothing like being in Houston.

As we drive to Dimmitt, about an hour away, the girls give me the lay of the land and an overview of the weekend's events at the quilt festival. I notice some ominous dark clouds, off on the right.  OH, NO! I think to myself, this is TORNADO country!

I can handle earthquakes, but I have no idea what to do if there is a tornado. So I try to act casual and ask the girls, "If there was a tornado, would you show me what to do?"   They both laugh and tell me, "we haven't had many tornado around here lately."  Which, I find out later, is not the truth.  As we are driving, Beth, from the back seat, tells me, "See that pile over there? That is where a tornado touched down and what is left of a mobile home."   I tell Rosemary to pull the car over - I have to get a picture of this.  I take my photo and get back in the car to the giggles of the girls and Beth telling me now. "Oh Melinda, that was just a pile of junk! They laugh again. (picture below)

There is one stop light in town and everybody drives only American made vehicles, mostly big trucks or Chevy Suburbans.  There was not one self important Prius driver in the whole town.

The Ogallala Quilt Festival in held  in this very small town. Being located between Amarillo and Lubbock,  it is also within traveling distance to New Mexico.   Quilters came from all over Texas to enjoy this fun festival.  This is their 13th year and it keeps growing bigger every year. They invited me back in 2008 to be there featured teacher this year. Quite an honor. Next year they will have Paula Nadelstern.
I taught 3 classes and did my lecture on Friday for at least 300 people. After my lecture they had a quilt auction with a real Texas auctioneer who talked so fast it made  my head spin.  It was so fun.
But don't let the one stop light and big trucks fool you, this is a very sophisticated group of people and quilters that know their quilting and are very talented.   These quilters take over the whole town and Dimmitt loves it and rolls out the red carpet.
My accommodations where awesome.  I stayed at Jon and Nicky Riddle's house.  He is the pharmacist in town and Nicky is a talented interior designer.  My room looked like it was out of House Beautiful.  I had a view of 5 horses in the pasture across form their house and I bought 2 of the cutest designer necklaces at the drug store they own.

I saw Longhorn cattle and real cowboys in tight jeans with spurs on their boots.  Every time any of the girls saw or talked about a cowboys with tight jeans they all would smile and squeal for joy like they where 18 again.  I even started to get the cowboy fever. There is something in their water.  I am sure of it.
When the locals drive through town in Dimmitt, they lift one finger up off the steering wheel when they see another car coming.  That is their wave to the other car because they do REALLY know that person.

I was driven back to the airport by Lisa, a stylish young woman.  She asked me if I had ever seen a zonkey? Nope, I had never seen a zonkey.  So she whipped a u-turn to show me the zonkey.  It's half horse, half donkey and half zebra. OK, so that adds up to an animal and a half - I'm an artist, not a mathematician. So cool.

So now, I am back in my home with green trees, rolling hills and traffic. I drive by people I will never wave at  and live on a street where I don't even know the names of the people across the street.

Thank you Rosemary and West Texas for a wonderful time.  I will never forget you!
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