Lake Park woman to host sixth annual quilt show, tea on Saturday
Ever since Peggy and Ed Stellmach moved from Missoula, Mont., to their new home in Lake Park six years ago, they have worked to transform their surroundings into a haven filled with flowers, herbs and vegetables.
"When we moved here (in July 2006), there were no gardens, just grass and trees," says Peggy.
Today, there are flowers and herbs and vegetables galore. Because she loves flowers, and "my husband doesn't like to mow," the Stellmachs' garden grows a little bit more each year.
"I like to try out different varieties every year," Peggy says.
The beauty of the Stellmachs' gardens will be on display Saturday, Aug. 18, during the Families Forever Garden Quilt Show and Tea.
"I would say we get as many people coming for the gardens as for the quilts," Peggy says. "When there's something new (in the garden), they get kind of excited about it."
For a small admission fee, guests can come view the gardens as well as more than 100 quilts and quilted art pieces on display amongst the blooms and greenery.
After viewing the quilts and gardens -- or before, if they prefer -- guests can sit at one of the tables scattered around the gardens, or under one of two tents with formal seating arrangements to enjoy tea and scones -- or coffee, or cookies, or the many other homemade goodies that will be served. (A limited number of full lunches will also be available for sale, Peggy noted.)
The show runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The proceeds from the show, as well as the various goodie baskets, cloth bags and other items for sale during the event, will benefit the Families Forever Scholarship Fund, started six years ago by Peggy in memory of her sister, Mary Disse Ballard.
Ballard, a Lake Park resident who was a daycare provider for over 20 years, passed away in March 2006 after a five-month battle with stomach cancer. She was a firm believer in the value of families and local communities in shaping young people, especially young women, which is why Peggy decided to set up the scholarship fund in her memory.
Each year, the proceeds from the quilt show are used to award two $500 scholarships -- one to a contestant in the annual Miss Northwest Scholarship Pageant, and one to a female Lake Park-Audubon High School graduating senior.
The two young women chosen to receive the scholarships are chosen based upon a 500-word essay expressing what their families and communities have meant to them in shaping their lives and futures, as well as a short interview with a panel of five independent judges.
"The young women who get these scholarships are just extraordinary," Peggy gushed. "They are so accomplished."
A complete list of scholarship recipients past and present, as well as a history of the event and photos of past quilts and garden displays, is available online at quiltsandtea.weebly.com.
Peggy says she hit upon the idea of doing a garden quilt show because of similar events that she and her friends had been to in the past.
"A friend and I had been to some outdoor quilt shows, and I had given teas in Missoula as fundraisers," she says, "and I love gardening, so it all just kind of gelled."
Preparations are already well underway for Saturday's show.
"I couldn't do this without my family," says Peggy.
"My husband designed a hanging system (for the quilts), and my brother-in-law (Mary's husband) helps hang them, as well as my brothers and my nephews. My sisters-in-law help cashier, hostess, whatever is needed. My niece Angelica (Mary's daughter) even has a lemonade stand."
A Detroit Lakes native, Peggy comes from a family of seven siblings, many of whom still make their home in the lakes area.
"Mary is the only one we've lost," she said of her siblings. "We've been lucky."
Ed was born and raised in Barnesville, where he still raises vegetables on the family farm. Though the couple has three sons of their own, none of them live nearby -- Bill makes his home in Portland, Ore., Tim in Arlington, Mass., and James in Davis, Calif.
They also have four step-grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, and their first biological grandchild is due in December.
Despite all the blessings her family has received, however, Peggy never forgets the reason why she started this project -- or the many friends and family she has lost to cancer since then.
"I wanted a way to remember Mary, but since then, my lifelong best friend has also died from cancer," she says, adding that several other relatives and friends have as well. "We can't forget these people, what they go through, and what we miss not having them around."
Saturday's show will also include an opportunity for guests to vote on their favorite quilts and quilt art pieces, with the top vote-getter winning a $150 prize package that includes gift certificates to two area quilt shops as well as a Gingher rotary cutter (used in quilting). "And there will be door prizes, too," Peggy says.
For more information, please visit the website at quiltsandtea.weebly.com.
Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.