Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sewing Weekend in Beaver Dam

Every year I save some vacation days for the weekend that Nancy Zieman holds her Sewing Weekend seminars in Beaver Dam, WI.  In my opinion it's three of the best days of the whole year.

Sewing Weekend has been going on for a while.  This year was the 28th year.  It is a big deal now, but if you have attended any of Nancy's seminars anywhere you've probably heard about how it started in the basement of a church with about 250 people.  And that was more than were expected to come, so it was a hit from the get-go!

DISCLAIMER: I have NOT been paid to talk about any of these products, nor do I work for any of these companies. The opinions expressed here are my own!

This year I didn't check the numbers before I left, but thousands attend, and they come from all over the country!  There's a map where you can stick a pin in your home town.  Of course I live close (OK 87 miles give or take.)  There wasn't room enough in the map for pins from everyone from the southeast corner of Wisconsin.

Many ladies came with or were delivered there by their husbands.  It's nice to have someone who supports your passion and is willing to carry your purchases!  And there are activities for the guys in the area... golf, fishing, sporting goods department at Sears, etc.

You sign up on line on Nancy's web site to attend lectures with national sewing experts, attend 'sit and sew' classes where you make a project on a high-end sewing machine provided by Baby Lock.  The lectures and classes are reasonably priced.  There are evening entertainments on one or two nights.  There are vendors who demonstrate their products and show you what's new.  And there are free lectures/demos in the warehouse if you have a bit of time.

For lunches on Sewing Weekend days, you can enjoy the buffet at Ponderosa Steakhouse or grab a quick sandwich or salad at a wonderful snack stand in the warehouse.  The same ladies have been there for the last 5-6 years or so.  I always want to ask the name of their business but never remember to do that until after the fact!

The best part of the weekend for me is going to the lectures.  This year you could have seen and heard Alex Anderson, Louise Cutting, and of course Nancy Zieman, among others.  In the past I have gone to lectures from Sandra Betzina, Patti Palmer, Marty Michel, Eleanor Burns and Eileen Roche, just to name a few. 

It's the one time of the year that I get to ride on a yellow school bus!

Here's the drill:

You arrive at the Nancy's Notions warehouse at least a half hour before your seminar starts.  The times are staggered so everyone doesn't arrive all at once.  You park your car, either on the parking lot if you're early enough, or on the grass next door or across the street.  Beaver Dam policemen and other volunteers are there to assist you in finding a good spot.  You do a quick or leisurely meander through the building depending on the timing of your arrival.  At the bus loading station, where shipments usually arrive, there are yellow buses and plenty of drivers and aides to help you on the bus.

Bus drivers take a route through town to the various places that have been rented for classes.  Since Beaver Dam doesn't have a convention center, the places where you may be dropped off include the high school and middle school auditoriums, the Family Living Center, or a couple of the area churches.

At any location, you will enjoy a lecture or demonstration of some sewing or quilting techniques, trunk shows, how-to-do this or that, or mysteries revealed/quick and easy methods from a nationally known expert in the field.

When it's over you jump back on the bus, to be delivered either to a lunch location or the warehouse for shopping.  If you get tired of hauling your basket around, you can check your package and sit down for a bit of refreshment or a short, free lecture in the warehouse.  You can take a nap (a favorite husband activity) in a nice comfy chair in the NN employee break room if you want to, but I personally try not to miss anything!

There are usually contests for sewist young and old.  This year there were lots of lovely challenge quilts hanging in the halls.  Nancy and her staff support the sewing education of 4H and other young people in Central Wisconsin. 

You can sign up to win door prizes too.  I always wish I had remembered to put address labels in my purse when I'm writing out the 23 numbers and letters of just my street address!

Nancy said at her lecture this year that the radio station reminded everyone that it was sewing weekend, and basically to look both ways when crossing the street.  It must be a big deal if it makes the local radio station!!

If you haven't been to Beaver Dam, a sleepy little town of about 15,000 normally, when it gets invaded for sewing week, what are you waiting for?  Mark your calendars for next year, and come to beautiful Wisconsin!  We'll leave the light on for you.

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