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Published: Thursday, 4/27/2006

2 area women compete in prestigious quilt show

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sylvania Township resident Sharon Mareska hopes her broken-star bed-sized quilt will come home a prize-winner. Sylvania Township resident Sharon Mareska hopes her broken-star bed-sized quilt will come home a prize-winner.
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A Sylvania Township woman has been on pins and needles, waiting for word from Paducah, Ky., where her quilt is on display during the 22nd annual American Quilter's Society show and contest.

Sharon Mareska's quilt is one of 10 quilts from Ohio at the event, which is expected to draw 35,000 quilters, collectors, enthusiasts, and vendors.

Quilters in 46 states and 12 other countries, including France, Korea, Australia, and Israel entered the yearly competition.

A quilt made by Maumee resident Margaret Okuley, called Congregation of Poppies, was selected for the show too.

Her quilt is entered in a category designated for those who are entering the contest for the first time.

Sharon Mareska Sharon Mareska
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Semifinalist quilts were judged last weekend, and the winners are being honored this week during the show that ends Saturday.

Because of the event's outstanding reputation, "Most quilters think they have won if they get juried into the show," said Bonnie Browning, AQS executive show director.

Some of the best quilters in the world participate in the annual event, she said, and entries this year are making the show one of the most colorful in quite awhile.

The competition this year will award $114,000 in prize money. The quilt awarded "Best of Show" will win $20,000.

Some of the quilts are made completely by hand, while some are done by machine. Others, such as Mrs. Mareska's quilt, combine hand stitching and machine stitching.

The show, which draws 750 to 1,000 entries each year, includes a quilt auction tonight and a fashion show of garments ornamented with quilting, such as on a collar or cuff.

All quilt entries are judged and selected from digital images, and then the number is pared down to the show's semifinalists. This year there are 428 semifinalists.

Mrs. Mareska, who has been quilting since 1974, has been a semifinalist at the show in previous years, but has not won - yet.

"I wish I had," Mrs. Mareska said, but pointed out that "it is just such an honor to be accepted into the show."

She did the hand stitching on her Broken Star bed-size quilt. Machine quilting on the entry was done by Vicky Shoup, of Wauseon.

Although Mrs. Mareska has attended the annual show in other years, she won't be able to travel to Paducah, dubbed Quilt City USA, this week.

However, several of her quilting friends are going with their cameras and will have a complete report for her, including pictures.

Quilts, which are judged in 15 categories, include bed-size, large and small wall quilts, and miniatures.

Designs range from the traditional Log Cabin, Mariner's Compass, and New York Beauty to innovative works featuring paint, threads, and original designs.

The best of show quilt will become part of the permanent collection in the Museum of the American Quilter's Society in Paducah.

Mrs. Mareska, who has worked on nine quilts for fund-raising efforts to benefit the northwest Ohio affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, was invited to design the Ohio 2003 bicentennial quilt.

Her current projects include a quilt she is making for a new building at Bittersweet Farms near Whitehouse.



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