The Upper Cumberland Quilt Festival (U.C.Q.F.) was organized in 1988 as a major fundraiser for the Algood Senior Citizens Center and has continued to be an annual event for the City of Algood and for the Upper Cumberland Region. It provides an opportunity for showcasing the quilts of women and men of the region, state and surrounding states.
The U.C.Q.F. mission continues to be : “to preserve the art and heritage of quilting and related arts, showcase quilts and needle arts, and provide education and a meeting place of experts in the related fields”.
The festival has grown each year in number and quality of quilts displayed, now numbering over 600 quilts each festival. Quilt Guilds from the Upper Cumberland have displayed their guild’s quilts in historic homes for the past several years. Attendees have been able to participate in a “Quilt Walk” to view quilts and homes. This has created interest not only in the fine quilts but also in the local architectural history of Algood. The latest project associated with the festival is the “Quilt Trail” where quilt patterns are painted on beautiful area barns.
This festival has been made possible through the support of the community and Tennessee Arts Commission grants. Local school children have been involved in various ways through the years. Art Classes at Algood and Baxter Schools painted patterns on blocks to be attached to barns.
The Algood School Library has participated by having a quilt show in their library during the festival, using that opportunity to teach children about quilts. It is one of the sites open during the festival. Local City officials, Chamber of Commerce, Trinity Assembly Church, Algood United Methodist Church, Algood Furniture Store, and Burton’s Chapel Methodist Church, have provided space and have been involved each year of the festival. Masters Health Care has provided financial support, a quilt show in their dining room and staff to help with the festival. Local banks have provided sponsorship, with Jackson Bank & Trust being this year’s sponsor. Local radio, newspaper, television and magazines have provided advertising. The Algood Senior Center members (especially quilters) have ownership and pride in the festival and have participated in all the activities.
A new and very successful feature was added to the Festival in 2008 in the form of a Preview Show and Dinner with a quilt and cake auction to raise additional funds. With this feature new clientele participated as participants and contributors.
In 2010 Barn Tours were added to the Festival. All day touring of Putnam and adjoining counties to see quilt patterns painted on barns and historic buildings along with lunch and some shopping created new excitement and reached new participants to the Festival.
Getting to Know the Founder of the Upper Cumberland Quilt Festival, Babara Tolleson
Name: Barbara Tolleson
Hometown: Horton, Ala., a small farming community on Sand Mountain in north Alabama.
Now living in: Cookeville Family: Husband, Sherwell, three children and six grandchildren.
First job: I worked in a clothing store in Boaz, Ala., during the summer and on Saturdays while in high school.
Current occupation (and since when): I am retired but I work as a volunteer with the Quilt Festival Board all year for planning and implementing the quilt show. I worked as center director for Algood Senior Center from 1987-1992, then in the Department of Aging at Upper Cumberland Development District until retirement in 1999. I have worked in some capacity with the quilt show since its beginning in 1988.
What I love about my job: I love working with the people involved with the show and those who share their beautiful quilts to be displayed. I love that the community of Algood, the local churches, schools and businesses are involved and so supportive. After preparation is complete, I love walking around to see the beauty of quilts displayed everywhere. It is awesome. Then -- the people come!
Part of my job I could do without: Always, a few things seem to go wrong -- Judy Roberson of the Department of Aging mentored and trained me as center director. She said "when planning a large event to anticipate at least one thing to go wrong for every 100 people you expect, so be flexible."
What drew me to this occupation was: After raising my family, I wanted and needed to go to work. The senior center job attracted me and I found working with seniors very rewarding.
Dream job: Earlier in life, I wanted to own a business. I did co-own an antique business but that was more of a hobby than a financial success.
When I'm not working I'm: gardening, reading, involved with my church.
I'm most proud of: My husband and children.
Something most people don't know about me: I love gospel music. I grew up attending "singing school" and going to gospel singings. Sherwell and I met because of that interest in music. I played piano for his "FFA Quartet."
Favorite movie: Sound of Music
Favorite food: Hard to say. I love good food. One of my favorites this time of year is fried green tomatoes. I do like ice cream.
My hero (and why): My mom. As a farmer's wife, she worked very hard. She instilled that work ethic in her three daughters. Our home was always a gathering place for family and good food. She saw that we were in church regularly. She was a great mom!