Pritchard Family Reunion Quilt Raffles

Ray Vlasin;Theresa Simonson
Spalding, Nebraska, United States

Helen Claire Pritchard was born in April 1932 in Spalding, NE, as were six brothers and sisters, five of whom lived to adulthood.  The Pritchard biennial reunion was established sometime in the early 1970s, is held in or around Spalding and is always well attended.  The reunion generally starts with canoeing down the Cedar River and/or golfing on the public par-3 golf course on Saturday mornings. A picnic buffet at the park, complete with swimming, turtle racing, yard games, and singing tops Saturday night. Sunday is typically a Roman Catholic Mass and lunch, the sites varying between Spalding and Primrose. The Prim Town Pub has been the site of the Sunday luncheon and quilt raffle for the last four reunions.

A Christmas Tree skirt made by Claire Vlasin and raffled at the Pritchard Family Reunion, 2006.

Members of the Pritchard family (including Margaret Pritchard McCoy and Mary Glaser, center) pose in front of a table of Claire's quilts displayed for the 2008 raffle.

Claire Vlasin with Susan, Lori, Amy Pritchard at the 2010 Pritchard Family Reunion.

Claire first brought quilts she created to the reunion about 2002, at first to talk about them and answer questions. For a couple of reunions, she gave them away by means of a no-fee raffle. At some point, a Pritchard (unknown at this point) asked if the raffle tickets might be sold and the proceeds used to defray the cost of the picnic.  Over the course of seven or eight reunions, Claire probably donated 80-100 items consisting of quilts, wall hangings, baby blankets, table runners, napkin sets, tablecloths, Christmas tree skirts, hot pads, and quilted cozies/doilies.  The quilts were sometimes her earliest efforts, many times with western and farming scenes or log cabin patterns.  Others were her most recent experiments or ones she had used for classroom or seminar talks and she was ready to swap out.

A quilt made for the 2004 Pritchard Family Reunion

The volume of offerings meant that Ray and Claire usually drove from Michigan to Nebraska, packed and unpacked the items, displayed them on hanging bars they would bring, and explained what they were.  The raffle winners chose items in the order their ticket was pulled.  For those who never seemed to win the raffle, Claire found out what they would like, made it for them over time and then mailed the item(s).

Margaret (Pritchard) McCoy pictured with Claire Vlasin's quilts for the raffle at the 2012 Pritchard Family Reunion.

Claire seemed to keep the reunion offerings in her thoughts all year, exploring colors, textures, patterns, and themes that might be different from prior offerings.  Several of her nieces and grandchildren took an interest in quilting, and she held impromptu classes and explanations wherever there was interest.  After Claire passed, Ray brought the quilts she had set aside to the next reunion (2014).  The Pritchards decided to auction the offerings and donate the proceeds to the Claire Pritchard Vlasin Quilt Preservation Fund.  A spirited bidding war ensued! The Pritchards supported and appreciated Claire's skill through the years, and many of them proudly display her creative projects in their homes and apartments.

Ray Vlasin gives a brief history of the quilt auction at the 2014 Pritchard Family Reunion as auctioneer Bill Spelic looks on.

Bill Spelic auctions quilts at the 2014 Pritchard Family Reunion.

Kent and Dorothy Endacott had the winning bid and first choice of the quilts at the 2014 Pritchard Family Reunion.

After the full size quilts were raffled, there was an auction of mini-quilts made by Claire at the 2014 Pritchard Family Reunion.

For more information about the Pritchard Reunion, go to

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