TAI’s current series of Rotating Exhibit Network panels features a profile of the Daviess County Amish Quilt Auction. This annual event brings the area’s Amish and Mennonite community together with craft enthusiasts for a festive showcase of local quilting. Since 1987, the auction has helped support Amish home businesses and fostered fellowship among auction participants. The TAI exhibit panel presents photographs from the auction’s 25th anniversary and describes the ongoing importance of the event as a cultural collaboration between local groups.
The panel arises from TAI survey fieldwork in Daviess County in 2012. During this project, I met many quilters in the Amish community in and around Montgomery. Among them were David and Anna Wagler, a husband and wife quilting team who also operate a shop called Wagler’s Quilts. Like many Amish businesses in the area, Wagler’s Quilts is a modest outbuilding on the owners’ property. The Waglers sell locally-made Amish quilts and a variety of other crafts, often to tourists who visit by bus. The shop also functions as a quilting workshop and gathering place, where David and Anna work and other members of their family and community sometimes meet to stitch or piece together. David and Anna stressed to me the importance of attending the annual Daviess County Quilt Auction, an event that they have helped organize since its inception.
Over Labor Day weekend in 2012, Kelley Totten, Will Claytor, and I visited the Simon J. Graber Community Building in Montgomery to document the auction. We took photographs of the quilts up for auction, recorded auctioneer patter, and talked to many participants about their perspective on the event. Our REN panel draws on the media we gathered and conversations we had that day, highlighting the local significance of the auction experience as well as the aesthetics of the quilts themselves.
Click below to listen to J. Yagle auction off a “Peaceful Retreat” pattern quilt at the 2012 auction.
To learn more about future quilt auctions and other upcoming public events in the Daviess County Amish and Mennonite community, please visit the county’s website:
The TAI staff and contributors would like to express our condolences to the family, friends, and community of Daviess County Amish Quilt Auction founder and organizer Lucille Dillon, who passed away in 2013.