How many heirloom quilts does it take to fill a church? The congregation of Tunkhannock United Methodist Church seeks the answer to that question for each Tunkhannock Fall Fest. Quilting instructors Gail Jones (above. Left) and Ingrid Rogler hold a batik quilt featuring the four seasons that will be on exhibit at the Dietrich Theater on which they collaborated.
By Rick Hiduk
(Also published in Living Susquehanna/Wyoming County Magazine)
The onset of fall brings with it expectations of pumpkin pie, harvesting, Halloween, high school football and the changing colors of the leaves. In Tunkhannock, autumn also conjures up the image of quilts due a long-running festival that became as iconic as the historic Wyoming County seat itself.
The event has since evolved into Hometown Fall Fest and is now coordinated by the Tunkhannock Business & Professional Association (TBPA). From 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, Oct. 5, local businesses and nonprofit groups band together to treat the town’s residents and visitors to “everything fall.”
“We’ve put our own twist on it while still including the quilts,” said TBPA president Nancy Parlo, giving a nod to the Airing of the Quilts event started by Jeannette Kitlin in 2001.
A large collection of quilts is now exhibited in the sanctuary of the United Methodist Church (top) at the intersection of Church and Warren streets. “It’s just breathtaking to see the number of quilts they fit in there,” Parlo remarked. Church parishioners and friends also conduct a bake sale and yard sale on the premises.
The TBPA works closely with eateries in town, as well as area caterers to make sure that there is plenty of food for those browsing shops along downtown streets. Harvest-related specialties will abound, and chefs and bakers without their own store frontage collaborate with other businesses to add a seasonal beverage or bite to eat to their shopping experiences.
Each of the participating stores will also feature music or some sort of exhibit or activity, related Parlo, who is working with local Girl Scouts to conduct a scarecrow decorating contest. Participating businesses are also encouraged to exhibit their favorite quilts and painted pumpkins. Information about the day’s activities will be updated regularly at www.tunkhannockbusiness.com.
Musical performances are coordinated by the Kitson Arts Alliance (KAA), whose members will also offer live demonstrations of a variety of talents, including painting in the streets.
“I look forward to Fall Fest coming back and filling the streets with art and music,” related KAA cofounder Patrick Robinson.
Participating artists will include sculptor Jennifer Sause Brennan (above) and wood carver Matthew Howell, who creates prize-winning tramp art boxes. Folk guitarist Jessica Illuzzi will be among the street performers.
The Dietrich Theater on East Tioga Street will host the Quilting for Everyone Exhibit, a collection of quilts made by students and their quilting instructors, who have had a home at the Wyoming County Cultural Center for 16 years. Teacher Ingrid Rogler will share the history of how quilters and other fiber artists resorted to “making do” by incorporating some unusual items into their quilts during tough times.
“Hometown Fall Fest is the perfect day to enjoy the charm of downtown Tunkhannock, with its backdrop of changing leaves,” said Erica Rogler, executive director of the Cultural Center. “I like to take the day to visit local shops, dine at a favorite eatery and run into friends and neighbors.” Rogler also recommends partaking in the Historic Tunkhannock Walking Tour, maps for which can be found in the theater lobby or on smart devices at www.dietrichtheater/tour.
Fall Fest patrons can mosey down Bridge Street toward the scenic Susquehanna River and pause at Ebb’s Candy Store to enjoy a feast for the senses. Andrew Nicholas & the Shades will perform from 2 to 4 pm, and games will include cornhole and a hot cinnamon fireball contest.
The majority of activities associated with Hometown Fall Fest are free. Some additional highlights will include a book sale at the Tunkhannock Public Library on East Tioga Street and a display of historic quilts and centuries of memorabilia at the Wyoming County Historical Society museum on East Harrison Street.