One of my community’s joys is welcoming visitors to our picturesque little town. Collectively, we love to share the uniqueness that is Winterset and Madison County. Annually, in May, we embrace hundreds of guests for the John Wayne Birthplace Celebration, thousands in October for the Madison County Covered Bridge Festival.
We open our arms every day in smaller ways as well, whether by giving directions to tourists looking for our covered bridges, pointing out our beautiful gift shops and other independently-owned retailers that line the square, or greeting quilters and quilt lovers who enter the Iowa Quilt Museum.
Soon, my town will be opening its arms to a special, limited group of quilters. The September 13–15 event, titled “At Home with Marianne Fons,” has been organized by my longtime friend Marlene Ingraham, who waxes poetic about Winterset and the event here. Personally, I’ve been describing the weekend as a “quilting spa,” because once participants hit town and check into their accommodations, everything else is provided—fabric for my full-size quilt, “Darling,” (plus an additional project) sewing machine, special tools, instruction, snacks, lunches, dinners with local wines, and, of course, camaraderie. Mega quilters Paula Nadelstern and Victoria Findlay Wolfe will be in town for the kickoff. Iowa’s own Linzee Kull McCray, Tony Jacobson, and Diane Tomlinson have much to share as well. The whole thing will be like a soothing quilt massage.
For years, in the popular “Tip Table” segment of “Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting” on public television, I invited viewers to send their tips to a PO box in Winterset, Iowa. I encourage anyone who’s curious about the place I call home to come experience my stomping ground in a very quilty way.