They called Jefferson the “Riverport to the Southwest” and it was the most important port in Texas in the early 1840’s. It was reported to be the sixth largest city in Texas and part of the largest cypress forest on earth. The town was born in 1841 from an idea of Allen Urquhart and Daniel Alley in the Republic of Texas but soon after, the State of Texas.

Courtesy of Texas Highways Magazine. Photo: Erich Schlegel

The town prospered after obstructions were removed from the river. Cotton and other goods could then make it to and from Dallas, New Orleans and St. Louis on the Mississippi River for many years.

In 1873, a one hundred mile long log jam was cleared from the Big Cypress River. It was said to be there since the dawn of time, and would probably still be there if nitroglycerin wasn’t invented. This was the beginning of the end to Jefferson as the water level was reduced along with the navigation of the river. The railroad soon replaced the steamboats.

After the trains came, the river city of over 30,000 became a town of just six thousand. You can easily imagine the town as it was 150 years ago as you walk down the streets now.

You can find the best of Texas barbeque alongside fabulous French inspired architecture, homes with Greek revival design and the charm of southern hospitality.

Today, Jefferson has become busy with classic car shows, the antique shops and the famous quilt show. Jefferson has also been the location for the Pulpwood Queens Book Club Girlfriend Weekend’s annual conference for twenty years now, attracting authors from all around the country. Wherever you find rich culture, history and tradition, you find talented crafts people, pride…and breathtaking quilts.

After driving in from Azle, Texas, on Wednesday, I slogged into a drenched town to peek in a few antique shops. I ordered pizza at Patio Pizza, walked back to the RV park and enjoyed my soggy pizza while I watched a few episodes of Downton Abbey (I’m catching up with the rest of the world and enjoying this show). The next morning I stepped out of Ranger (my motorhome) and into a puddle of mud that was as big as a Texas swimming pool (others call that a lake, because everything is bigger in Texas).

I was the first one at the Jeffersonian Institute where the Quilts on the Bayou quilt show was being held that Thursday morning. I was eager to set up my booth and go antique shopping after. My last show was in Farmington, New Mexico way back in October so I was apprehensive about knowing what to do and not forgetting anything. To my surprise, the puzzle came together perfectly like I’ve done it a hundred times. It was too easy, so that made me nervous too. I put Ranger in the parking lot and hit the streets. I found a couple of treasures but all the while my mind was on the upcoming show for the next morning.

Friday morning the quilters poured into the building like hot Blackburn Texas syrup onto a stack of pancakes. Every hallway, room and corridor was filled as the “Oh my’s” and “Look at that one!” As they made their way to my booth with their smiles and grand anticipation, I felt like I was a tall and cold glass of sweet tea for some very thirsty quilters. Showing the eager quilters my “Garden Friends” stencil with the easy, continuous lines then having the powder disappear as I lifted the iron…they’d gasp and say “It’s magic!” and “Oh I love this!” all day long. They came from Shreveport, Houston, Marshall, some as far as New Orleans and all of the surrounding areas for this very special event. The city councilman I spoke with said there wasn’t a parking space to be found in town.

The second day was a warm and sunny Saturday. We welcomed the kids, the dogs and younger parents. Some may not have been the serious quilters like the day before, but make no mistake, they appreciated and respected the talent and hard work that was demonstrated in every quilt that was hung. The Jeffersonian Institute is a grand building and it was lined with quilts from as far away as Poland. The vendors offered everything a quilter could ever hope for. Ronny was there with his hand crafted pens (thank you again Ronny!) along with the “Scissor Guy” who has come every year since the show started seventeen years ago. Stitcher’s Garden came from Colorado to set up her magnificent booth ~ Sandy’s booth was a show within the show, and she stole the show!

The event was a grand success and many thanks go out to the Board that put on this fabulous show. Edris McCrary did an amazing job juggling all the vendors, she truly cared about each one of us and flawlessly orchestrated this major Jefferson, Texas event.

I was invited back for next years’ show and I most certainly look forward to it. I hope to learn more about the history of the town and to shop through the many antique shops I didn’t get to. There is also a boat ride and a train ride, a beautiful city park and fabulous restaurants, I may even throw my kayak in the river if it’s warm enough.

If you have a quilt that you would like to enter, you can let me know and I’ll be happy to pass on the information to the Board.

Enjoy the photos! Let me know what you think and thank you for stopping by. Now that you’ve taken a break from your quilt, it’s time to finish that up so you have it ready for next year’s show!