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Vermont Quilt Festival ends in 'gut-wrenching decision'

A woman in a purple apron pulls back a colorful, intricately decorated quilt that's hanging up to show another woman in a blue shirt and backpack. Both are smiling.
Vermont Quilt Festival
The festival has drawn more than 6,000 attendees to Essex Junction in past years and was scheduled for the end of June.

The Vermont Quilt Festival planned for next month in Essex Junction has been canceled — and it's ending for good after more than 40 years.

In recent weeks, festival organizers realized they weren’t going to be able to cover their costs. After lower-than-expected sign ups for vendors and classes, they were looking at a budget shortfall of over $70,000, according to Marti DelNevo, the chair of the board of directors.

"Up until we really looked at the numbers at the end of April, we really thought we were going to be a go — knowing that we had a bit of an uphill climb economically," DelNevo said. "We really, desperately tried to make it work."

A virtual lecture scheduled for June 24th will still take place.

Past festivals have drawn more than 6,000 participants in a year.

DelNevo said the festival was special because it was welcoming of quilters of many abilities and the contests were not juried.

“We’ve always wanted to encourage quilters to display their work and to be proud of the work that they produce,” she said. “We had some well-known quilters enter our show, but a quilter like myself felt comfortable entering this show. And I wouldn’t think of sending my quilts [to bigger shows].”

In 2016, twin sisters both won Janome sewing machines after entering their quilts in the festival.
Vermont Quilt Festival
In 2016, twin sisters both won Janome sewing machines after entering their quilts in the festival.

It also had a youth competition, where first-time entrants were gifted a new sewing machine. "We were planning to do that again this year, and that's a huge disappointment," she said.

Hundreds of people commented on social media posts from the festival responding to the news and sharing what the festival had meant to them.

"It was a gut-wrenching decision. And it was a tough thing to see that letter come out. And then of course the outpouring of support and the reactions of people," DelNevo said. "I really feel like we let a lot of people down."

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Lexi covers science and health stories for Vermont Public.
Karen is Vermont Public's Director of Radio Programming, serving Vermonters by overseeing the sound of Vermont Public's radio broadcast service. Karen has a long history with public radio, beginning in the early 2000's with the launch of the weekly classical music program, Sunday Bach. Karen's undergraduate degree is in Broadcast Journalism, and she has worked for public radio in Vermont and St. Louis, MO, in areas of production, programming, traffic, operations and news. She has produced many projects for broadcast over the years, including the Vermont Public Choral Hour, with host Linda Radtke, and interviews with local newsmakers with Morning Edition host Mitch Wertlieb. In 2021 Karen worked with co-producer Betty Smith on a national collaboration with StoryCorps One Small Step, connecting Vermonters one conversation at a time.
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