Who would have thought a decade ago that a tiny quilt show in Fairfield would develop into one of the region's most anticipated winter events -- raising about $250,000 in funds for local charities?

Certainly not its founders, Cecily Zerega and Judy Reynolds.

Both will be honored at the 10th anniversary event -- "A Quilt Exhibit: Fabrics & Fabrications" -- at the Southport Congregational Church, which opens today (Friday, March 2) and continues Saturday.

Over the years, it has grown from a four-hour show to a three-day multi-event celebration of the quilting arts, featuring new and vintage quilts from throughout the country and an accompanying art exhibition. Featured will be bed-size quilts, wall hangings, miniatures, pillows and other quilted objects displayed in the church's sanctuary and chapel.

During the two-day show, lunch may be purchased from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and numerous workshops will be offered at an additional fee (a detailed listing of workshops is available on the group's website). A silent auction throughout the show will feature numerous unusual items, including a twin-size "Grandmother's Flower Garden" quilt by Gail de Marcken, illustrator of the children's book, "The Quiltmaker's Gift."

Reynolds said last week that she and Zerega came upon the idea for a "homespun" quilt show after attending one together in Cohasset, Mass., about 11 years ago. They "thoroughly enjoyed the simplicity, charm and spirit" of the exhibition," Reynolds said. The pair then approached their minister, the Rev. Paul Whitmore, and the church council with the idea of hosting a show.

They agreed, and the quilt show tradition began. Throughout the past decade, Reynolds said that the show has enjoyed major funding support from area benefactor Elizabeth M. Pfriem.

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PATCHWORK ART "A Quilt Exhibit: Fabrics & Fabrications" at Southport Congregational Church, 524 Pequot Ave., Southport section of Fairfield. Friday-Saturday, March 2-3, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; $10 admission. Lunch both days, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; $15. 203-259-6065; www.fabricsandfabrications.com.

More than 130 quilts -- all new to the event -- will be featured at this year's event, which will benefit the Trumbull-based Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut; Emerge Inc., a social service program in Stratford; and the Bridgeport-based Project Learn, Reynolds said.

For the public, as well as individual quilters, the allure of creating or owning a handcrafted item with "a story to tell" is compelling.

"Every quilt has its own history and unique design -- often created to celebrate a birth, a wedding and hope for the future -- stitched with love and the joy of giving," she said.

Every visitor to the show will receive a program that describes each quilt's background: Its "date, designer, quilt maker, pattern and exhibitor."

"Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice" is the theme of this year's art exhibit.

"In keeping with the theme, the show presents artwork and everyday articles that, through inspiration and ingenuity, have been created from materials originally serving other purposes," said Carol Nichols, special exhibit cochair.

"Visitors will view collages that incorporate pieces of antique wallpaper, as well as fragments from old journals, 19th century archives and letters; still life photographs that juxtapose family heirlooms with objects from nature; decorative birdhouses fashioned from old books; striking contemporary jewelry created from parts of vintage trivets, chandeliers, and furniture hardware; and even miniature sculptures carved from the lead at the end of pencil stubs," Nichols said.

Among the local artists exhibiting their work will be the following:

Dalton Ghetti, Bridgeport, who is renowned for his miniature lead carvings at the end of pencil stubs and was recently included in an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; he will present a free talk about his work on Saturday, March 3, at 2:30 p.m.

Also, Brinker Higgins, Fairfield, who creates one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry using vintage items; Richard Killeaney, Bridgeport, who makes decorative pillows from recycled men's clothing; Enid Munroe, Westport, who makes collages from "repurposed" objects, and daughter, Olivia Munroe, Bridgeport, who will display marionettes made for a production at the Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival at Trinity Church, Southport; and Laura Spector, Fairfield, who makes rustic garden benches from bittersweet vines.

Tickets will be available at the door for the show. Luncheon and gala tickets also will be sold on-site, on a first-come, first-served basis; reservations are suggested by the organizers.

The Southport Congregational Church, 524 Pequot Ave., Southport section of Fairfield. Show: Saturday, March 3, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; $10. Lunch March 3, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; $15. 203-259-6065, www.fabricsandfabrications.com.

pasboros@ctpost.com; 203-330-6284; twitter.com/PhyllisASBoros

PATCHWORK ART

"A Quilt Exhibit: Fabrics & Fabrications" at Southport Congregational Church, 524 Pequot Ave., Southport section of Fairfield. Friday-Saturday, March 2-3, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; $10 admission. Lunch both days, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; $15. 203-259-6065; www.fabricsandfabrications.com.