Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, bird-watching, leaf peeping or something else, Minnesota has all this and more to offer you, your friends and family.
And for those with an artistic, creative streak, there’s also quilting.
No longer the realm of church ladies or granny in her rocking chair, quilting has been embraced by thousands of quilters of all ages, levels of experience and both genders. For them, quilts are more than handmade bed coverings. They are an exquisite, one of a kind art form.
Quilting’s artistry and popularity will be on display this summer at the 14th annual Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop, which runs for 24 days, from July 31-Aug. 23.
The event features 57 participating quilt shops in nine regions statewide: northwest, northeast, north central, central, east central, south central, metro, southwest and southeast. All nine regions with their participating shops are at www.quiltminnesota.com.
The northeast region, for example, has four participating quilt shops in Duluth, Floodwood, Beaver Bay and Cloquet.
The seven north central region quilt shops are in Baxter, Fergus Falls, Pequot Lakes, Perham, Randall, Wadena and Walker.
Front Porch Quilts of Walker is owned by Jana Wiese and husband Jeff, who have been involved in the Quilt Shop Hop since it began. In late 2014, the couple bought the Shop Hop, so 2020 will be their sixth year.
Here’s how the Quilt Shop Hop works. From July 31-Aug. 23, quilters visit quilt shops in one or more regions. Arriving by charter buses, vans and private cars, they check out special Shop Hop fabrics and quilt squares, mix and mingle with fellow quilters and shop owners, exchange ideas, and get their Shop Hop passports stamped to be eligible for regional and state-level prizes.
For those who visit all 57 shops across the state — and yes, this is possible, the grand prize is an Alaskan Cruise Package for two, which includes airfare to port of departure. Twenty $100 Shop Hop Gift Certificates will also be awarded.
Full details about this year’s Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop, including participating shops in each region and how to be eligible for prizes, are on the website www.quiltminnesota.com or Facebook at Quilt Minnesota.
Every year the Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop features an exclusive fabric line. This year’s designer is Aimee Bouchard, an artist/designer based out of Walker.
Aimee’s work is primarily painted by hand in gouache. Her detailed, whimsical illustrations celebrate Minnesota’s flora, fauna, folk arts and the imperfect symmetry found in nature, which have been turned into fabric by Clothworks.
This exclusive Quilt Minnesota 2020 fabric line overflows with loons, lady’s slippers and other forest flowers, muskies, sunfish, even iconic Minnesota phrases like “You Betcha!”
“We look for local artists first, not necessarily fabric designers,” Jana explains. “Clothworks takes their artwork and turns it into fabric that is only available at participating quilt shops until it’s sold out. Every year we seek a different designer/artist. A couple of our Shop Hop artists have gone on to design for other fabrics.”
In the past, the Quilt Shop Hop ran for three weekends and 17 days. This year, due to COVID-19 guidelines including social distancing, it has expanded to four full weekends and 24 days. Each shop will set its own protocols for mask usage, distancing and number of people allowed in the shop at one time.
During a typical Shop Hop, Jana sees about 1,200 “hoppers” at Front Porch Quilts in Walker.
“We are seeing all age ranges and more family groups. People plan their vacations to incorporate the Quilt Shop Hop! Lots of them will visit other regions, which means they get to see the whole state.”
Last year, the Wieses met a grandpa/granddaughter duo who were covering the whole state, in memory of his late wife, a dedicated quilter who had introduced her granddaughter to quilting.
And it’s not just veteran quilters. Beginners go on the Shop Hop to see what quilting is all about. Quilters enjoy meeting other quilters and exchanging ideas. Even people who’ve never quilted participate because they appreciate the skill, creativity and beauty that goes into quilt-making.
Bottom line: the 14th annual Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop is for everyone.
Even the avid angler, birder or kayaker might want to put down the fishing rod, binocs or paddle and spend a day checking out another type of northern adventure — the 2020 Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop.