We were not prepared for quilting as a competitive sport.

There are rules for the spectators, too.

Sewing is not my thing, never has been. In fact, there is a Cornhole Bag on my desk awaiting a few stitches along a popped seam. The bag has been on my desk…since last July.

We walked into the LeConte Center not really knowing what to expect, but would not have been disappointed if a quilt made its way home with us.

Wasn’t that kind of festival. Oh, certainly one could purchase quilting kits, like for this adorable child’s Halloween quilt but I reiterate: stitching ain’t my thing “sew” I had to be content with admiring the craftsmanship of others.

Loved the sheep; alas, they too were a kit.

We walked up and down each lane, with the competition quilts arranged by category.  Occasionally we would overhear commentary like, “What an elegant bargello!” and, “I think the stippling works well with those colors;” and felt like we were walking the Fő tér in Székesfehérvár overhearing two Nagymamas gabbing.

I snapped a few that caught our attention.

Some unexpected designs.

Hand-stitched.

Whimsical Wildlife.

I liked this design so much it is now the background on my iPhone.

Surely quilters are never involved in this many mysteries?

In the middle of space was a small cafe, with traditional mountain music like the Eagles’ Hotel California being performed on the dulcimer.

Judged Best in Show was this Nantucket-inspired design, based entirely on photos taken by the quilter. Who would not be impressed?

We planned ahead and made reservations for after the festival at one of the rare non-chain casual eateries in Pigeon Forge, a “New American” restaurant that locally sources just about everything they don’t make themselves. By this time Tennessee’s mask mandates and social distancing guidelines had been lifted, so it was great to one, need reservations; and two, see restaurants full of happy people.

Burgers (homemade “everything bagel” buns!) and two flights of some fun craft brews to wrap up our outing.

In my flight, two favorites. The Tennessee State Park Blonde Ale, the official beer of the Tennessee State Park system!  A portion of each purchase benefits the parks, too.  On our Belgium visit in 2019 I discovered I like blonde and white ales, who knew?

And to its right, the Peanut Butter and Jelly Milk Stout. Incredibly dark with roasted PB and dark chocolate notes.

Tony’s faves? The Highland Dew Scotch Ale (a “wee bit heavy” as he likes it) and an English Brown Ale.

Postscript. A Jelly Roll is a 2″-wide strip of fabric, conveniently bundled like, you guessed it, a jelly roll.  Fats are ½ yards of fabric cut in half again vertically into quarters; when stacked they appear “fat.” And FART?

Fabric Acquisition Road Trip