Franklin Holds Airing of the Quilts

Last weekend, downtown Franklin came alive with colorful quilts blanketing Main Street for the annual Airing of the Quilts. For over a decade, every Mother’s Day weekend, the traditional spring festival showcases the heritage of Macon County as quilts are hung between light posts along the downtown’s streets as well as displayed in businesses’ storefronts and windows.

Sponsored by the downtown merchants, Airing of the Quilts is an outdoor quilt show featuring timeless pieces of our Appalachian heritage. The Streets of Franklin Heritage Association worked together with the Arts Council of Macon County, the Arts Council, Sassy Stiches Quilt Shop and other downtown businesses to once again bring the festival to downtown Franklin. Local quilt guilds including the Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild of Western North Carolina and Cowee Quilters were also on hand displaying quilts and demonstrating quilting. Quilter Debbie Patterson also shared her display of unique handmade quilts.

The vibrant display of quilts gives festival goers the opportunity to admire, touch and inquire about the many of varieties of quilts on display. This year’s festival, which organizers say was one of the largest crowds ever, attracted a large crowd from neighboring towns and states. Visitors have come from as far away as Canada and England to attend the festival.

In addition, the Airing of the Quilts celebration featured quilting demonstrations, a raffle for a vintage quilt, a scavenger hunt focused on town history, Women’s History Trails displays, dulcimer music and Franklin Garden Club plant sale.

Franklin’s Airing of the Quilts festival was started to honor an Appalachian tradition rooted in necessity. Historically, after a long winter indoors, Appalachian families would take the quilts outside in the spring to “air them out.” Traditionally women and mothers were the ones to do the quilting in the families, so the festival is held on the Saturday before Mother’s Day to honor the women who have carried on the tradition of quilting throughout history.

Airing of the Quilts also helps to keep the tradition of quilting alive often sparking the interest of the next generation to learn the craft. Local quilting shops offer classes and workshops to help teach those interested in learning the handiwork.

Each year, Airing of the Quilts continues to showcase handmade quilts which are a labor of love which have been passed down from one generation to the next. Quilts are lovingly crafted, treasured, and preserved for generations of families to enjoy and share. Some are crafted to provide warmth and comfort, and others as a symbol of family history and heritage, but all are admired as masterpieces of the time, love, and dedication put into making the quilts.