Since 2017, the end of September has brought a wave of color to the grounds of the Triangle Cultural Center (332 N. Main St., Suite A) in Yazoo City, Miss., as a multitude of quilts in all shapes, sizes and patterns adorn the front lawn of the century-old former school building. The spectacle, known as the Hills Meet the Delta Quilt Show, is the work of Phyllis Haynes, a Triangle Cultural Center board member, former antique dealer and quilt-making hobbyist who has also organized events such as Antique Days to benefit the center.
Haynes’ goal for this year’s Hills Meet the Delta Quilt Show—which is set to take place on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.—is to honor the memory of E.T. Jordan, one of the earliest settlers of Carter, Miss., just five miles north of Yazoo City. Jordan lived in Carter in the early 1900s, at a time when the settlement consisted of little more than small houses, a town doctor, a grocery store and other essential buildings.
Olivia Anderson, a Yazoo native, artist and friend of Haynes, found an article about the early days of Carter that mentioned Jordan. She sent it to Haynes, who lived in Carter before moving to Yazoo City, feeling it would interest her, Haynes says.
The article led Haynes to search the B.S. Ricks Memorial Library on Main Street in Yazoo City, located near the Triangle Cultural Center, for more information on Jordan and how the early settlers of Carter lived. There, she discovered a microfilm of a journal that Jordan had kept.
Amid descriptions of how the settlers cleared trees and built a train station for the developing village, an account of how Jordan’s family made their own quilts caught Haynes’ eye. The Jordan family would use fabric from the local county store and cotton from a local gin to make the quilts to help families stay warm during winter months.
“Reading about how they made quilts back then resonated with me because my mother and grandmother both used to quilt, and I came to love it as well,” Haynes says. “Quilting has long been a widespread practice that produces so many beautiful designs.
‘Holding onto My Mother’s Quilt Tops’
As a highlight of the event, Haynes will lead guests in stuffing a quilt in the manner that Jordan and others did in the early 1900s—using raw, loose cotton that Haynes obtained from Planters Gin Co., a farm in Carter, rather than quilt-batting, a process that more modern quilters often use. Haynes plans to auction off the completed quilt at the end of the event.
“Long ago people had to pick the seeds out of the cotton for quilts by hand if they didn’t have a gin,” Haynes says. “They had to stuff it by hand and roll it, then beat the cotton to get it to lie flat. Many families even had their own quilt frames that they’d take out in the winter to work on them. To this day I still hold onto some of my mother’s quilt tops and frames that she made and plan to use them for the quilt show.”
Haynes previously owned Main Street Antiques in Yazoo City, which opened in 1981 and has since closed. Before that, she lived in Carter for 20 years. Today, Haynes has a space at the Triangle Cultural Center that she uses to design and paint barn quilts, which are large pieces of plywood painted to look like a quilt block and hung on the exterior of a barn or other building. She also works to promote businesses and crafters around Yazoo that sell quilts and quilting supplies.
The Hills Meet the Delta Quilt Show will feature quilting and other craft competitions with separate categories for hand quilting, machine quilting, miniature quilts, vintage quilts and other handmade items like potholders. First-place winners in each category will receive a $100 prize, while second-place winners will receive $50. Both also receive ribbons that Haynes made herself.
In addition to quilts and other handmade items for sale from crafters around the state, the show will offer goods from Yazoo Honey and Bee Farm, handmade chairs from Canton, Miss., native Greg Harkins, artwork from Yazoo City native Olivia Anderson and the Dennis Heckler Fine Art Gallery, live banjo music, food vendors, and more. Browsing the outdoor area is free, though admission to enter the center is $5 per person.
“Phyllis Haynes’ show has always been well-loved and well attended by locals and out-of-towners alike, and the people in our community missed it greatly for the two years it had to be shut down due to the pandemic,” Lois Russell, director of the Triangle Cultural Center, says. “Hearing that it was returning this year with new additions has created a lot of excitement for everyone at the center and our visitors. The quilts that crafters bring from all over the state are pure works of art that folks are always eager to take home with them.”
Haynes and her husband, Terry Haynes, have been married for 50 years and have a son named Scott Haynes, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.