What: 2018 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ­Saturday

Where: Downtown Sisters; parking and shuttle service available at Sisters High School, located west of downtown at 1700 McKinney Butte Road

Cost: Free

Contact: sistersoutdoorquilt show.org or 541-549-0989

When the 43rd annual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show gets underway Saturday, British quilter Judi Mendelssohn will be there for her first time. But it’s actually her second trip in two years to the town, where more than 1,400 quilts will be on view around downtown Sisters from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m.

“I didn’t actually visit the show when I came to Sisters two years ago. I came at a different time of year but specifically to do (reconnaissance) to plan this tour,” she told GO! by email. “(I) loved the town of Sisters, and am very pleased I have a few more days to visit and explore the area, let alone see the quilts.”

It’s long been a goal of hers to visit the show. Though she can’t say exactly when she first heard about Sisters and its famous quilt show, which draws some 10,000 souls from across the U.S. and more than 20 other countries, but believes it was from its founder.

“I think I may have heard about the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show directly from Jean Wells, many years ago, probably when it had not been running for that long,” she said. “Jean was in the U.K. teaching some classes and I thought it sounded like a wonderful idea. Not least because if you are British and live with the climate we have, you would never ever think you could guarantee what the weather would be like for an outside event for a specific day in the year.”

Mendelssohn hails from ­Twyning, about 125 miles west of London. She made her first quilt as a teen using scraps left over from making dresses. She became seriously interested in quilting in the late 1970s after seeing a log cabin quilt.

Along with decades of quilting, Mendelssohn has enjoyed different roles in the subculture of quilters, having served as a patchwork and quilting magazine editor, a quilt shop owner and on a committee for the Quilters Guild of the British Isles.

Now, she mostly works teaching, speaking and running tours — chiefly, but not exclusively — for patchwork and quilting enthusiasts through her small company, P&Q Tours. The “P” of the company’s name stands for patchwork, the “Q” for quilting, of course.

Through her work, Mendelssohn has led tour groups to the Midwest, Houston, New York, France, Italy and Japan, to name just a few. For quilters in the U.K., the world’s largest outdoor quilt show has come to represent “definitely a bucket list quilt destination/ambition for many U.K. quilters,” she said.

Thanks to this trip, dozens of her peers will be able to scratch the show off their bucket lists. Mendelssohn’s group numbers 45, “including our driver from Minnesota, and his wife who has become an ‘honorary Brit quilter,’ a couple of husbands and a brother,” she said. “Many have traveled with me before, and this is fulfilling a long-held ambition to come to Sisters, some are with me for the first time.”

Of quilters in the group, 25 saw fit to bring a quilt to include in the Outdoor Quilt Show, Mendelssohn said.

“We tried to give our quilts a theme, which was almost impossible, but they are under the grand title of ‘Crown and Country.’ When we viewed them together for the first time a few evenings ago in a show and tell amongst us all it (was) clear the interpretation is very, very, eclectic,” she said.

In her experience, the biggest plus when large numbers of quilters converge on a single location is ­“always, always, always the wonderful people you meet.”

The biggest minus is “the queues for the toilets — but there again life-long friendships have been formed here,” she said.

When traveling, she and her groups “try and embrace as much as possible about the places we are visiting and the people we are meeting,” she said, adding that during their travels, they’ve stayed in Mennonite homes and attended baseball “matches.”

Now, finally, the event she and her fellow U.K. quilters have traveled nearly 5,000 miles to attend is right around the corner — and they’re somewhat excited.

“After I visited Jean and Jeanette (Pilak, executive director) two years ago, I started to put this tour together and never had to advertise it because it filled up immediately with people who knew this is where they wanted to come,” Mendelssohn said. “To say as a group we are excited is one of the most classical British understatements ever.”

If you’re excited to go to Sisters for the event, organizers advise you to be patient. Tempting though it may be, parking is prohibited along U.S. Highway 20 east of town, but there’s extra parking at, and shuttle service from, Sisters High School.

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