The Ogallala Quilters Society began in February 1997, with eight "founding" board members and eighty dollars. Each board member put in ten dollars for dues and "start up" postage money.
What prompted these eight quilters to begin a venture as interesting and as full of promise as these past several years have been? Darlene Collins had been in Portland, Oregon, with her husband on a business meeting. While there she had the opportunity to visit one of their museum bookstores and was looking for a historical quilt book. The book that she found was one that described quilters from the Texas Panhandle, from Farwell and Clovis, N.M. These towns were less than fifty miles away from Dimmitt, Texas!
The idea began to grow that there must be many other quilters "out there" and that we could find a way to bring them together! She visited with Tina Hall, a "go-getter" quilter from Canyon who was ready to help. Then, she made contact with the owners of the quilt shops in Amarillo (Millie Riggs) and Lubbock (Sharon Newman). Both said that they were definitely interested and knew several others who would be just the ones to help put some ideas together. Darlene talked to three other quilters from Dimmitt who said they would help: Doris Lust, Joyce Davis and Cenci Hardee. On the day set for a general meeting, Millie brought June Long and Alice Grant and Sharon brought Jean Dean. Together, these quilters decided that the organization would become a reality.
Since the time that bi-laws were adopted and all the other necessary legal papers have been completed, the Society has grown into a viable organization. Approximately two hundred eighty quilters have become members since 1997. Ogallala Quilters Society is now headquartered in Dimmitt, Texas, a small town that has shared its hospitality with the Festival each April. With "in-kind" donations and many volunteer hours, the Society has provided money for prizes for the quilt show, offered 13 to 19 classes during each Festival, given free demonstrations, gathered together unique antique quilts (such as Civil War vintage), and entertained hundreds of visitors each year. Feature teachers from around Texas, Arizona, and Arkansas have shared quilting skills with those ready to learn.
Area and regional quilting instructors and quilt-makers have taught others and provided superior quality trunk shows and displays. An emphasis on improving skills and historical programs has become eagerly awaited events.
Dedicated volunteers have made this dream come true. Each April, hundreds of people from the town, area, and region, very quietly begin to complete each detail and prepare for the next Festival. Quilts are completed, treasured antiques are gathered, and teachers located. The volunteer prepared "Newspaper" signals the upcoming Festival.
The Ogallala Quilters Society has been proud to be allowed to promote and encourage the art of quilting for the past years.