The 27th annual Rio Grande Valley Quilt Show, called “Kaleidoscope of Life,” attracted hundreds of visitors to Pharr’s International Convention Center during the two-day event last month.

Guild members displayed a diverse collection of magnificent quilts and needle artwork, while vendors set up exhibits and offered demonstrations. Handmade quilts, as well as those made with machines, were also auctioned, sold and raffled.

“Our purpose is to preserve and encourage the art of quilting,” Melanie Franks, chair of this year’s event said. “Members are encouraged to use their creativity and artistic talents, as well as their basic skills, in all their projects.”

There were pre-teen quilters sitting at one table and advanced quilters at another, all engaged in their art.

“The Guild is open to anyone interested in quilts: beginners, intermediates, advanced quilters or admirers of quilts,” Mauverdyne Hambleton, co-chair of the event said.

From Oriental to Southern quilts, visitors were treated to themes from around the world. There was also a section dedicated to baby and children’s quilts. Patterns of dolphins, cats, turtles, floral and more were some of the selections. “When the child becomes an adult, then he or she might choose to hang the quilt on the wall as a remembrance of your hopes and dreams for their future,” one quilter pointed out. “I tell parents to pick a design that expresses their hopes for the child.”

“This is not just a bed covering,” Beverly Flemming, first place winner in her division, explained. “A quilt symbolizes comfort, warmth, and security. It is a cherished heirloom for generations because of the love and work that goes into making it.”

One quilt admirer in the crowd said that he had come to show support for his wife’s hobby, but he went on to admit his own fondness for quilting after relaying a story about his mother, a hotel executive, and how she collected small squares of curtain and bedspread samples that were headed for the trash.

“She (his mother) gathered them all until she had enough squares to stitch them together into a large quilt made of all the different textures, colors and designs you can imagine,” he said. “It was really beautiful.”

“Quilting is not for everyone,” one Guild member admitted as spectators gazed at her display. “It is a time-consuming art that requires a lot of patience and attention to detail.”

When asked how long some of the quilts on display took to make, every quilter had a different answer, varying from three weeks, three months, or as long as 75 years.

“It depends on you and how motivated you are to complete the quilt, and if you have help making it,” one woman said, laughing. “If you’re making it for a baby shower, than you’d better finish it within nine months!”

In 1981, the first Rio Grande Valley Quilt Guild began with only 10 members and has grown to more than 395, Guild co-chair Mauverdyne Hambleton pointed out. She is scheduled to take over next year’s event as chairwoman and expects even more participation. “It will be called ‘Stars Over the Rio Grande,’” Hambleton said, “and will be held Feb. 19 and 20, 2010.”

To find out more about RGV Quilt Guild, write to P.O. Box 32, Weslaco, Texas 78596, or visit their Web site at www.rgvqg.com.

“I envy people who have the patience it requires to make those beautiful quilts,” one visitor stated as she exited the show. “It’s truly remarkable.”