Purring Door Prizes and Rabid Groupies

Quilting grand dame Georgia Bonesteel is one of two living culture shapers recognized this month by the Henderson County Hall of Fame. Photo by Karin Strickland

Flat Rock resident Georgia Bonesteel has written 10 books on quilting, was the founding president of the Western North Carolina Quilters Guild, and has served as president of the International Quilt Association. But she’s best known for the instructional Lap Quilting public-television show she developed in 1979. The program went viral before viral was a concept, and reruns are still being broadcast.

“The response was overwhelming,” Bonesteel recalls. “I recognized quilting on the home front and gave viewers the confidence that they could do it, too. And they wanted to tell me about it. I’d receive 200 or 300 letters a day from my groupies.” They’d include $5 to buy her instructional booklet, too.

“We were stuffing envelopes on the dining table,” she says. “The sales of that booklet allowed me and my husband to buy a hardware store.”

On May 6, Bonesteel will be one of 11 new inductees into the Henderson County Walk of Fame, which honors residents, both past and present, who have made significant contributions to Henderson County. Walk of Fame sidewalk markers are placed in downtown Hendersonville.

“By accepting this honor, I feel like I’m recognizing and standing up for all the creative people I know,” says Bonesteel. Then she adds, with a chuckle, “And I think it’s more fun to be one of the honorees who is still alive.” The other living honoree is nationally acclaimed author Robert Morgan, who celebrates his native Henderson County through novels, poetry, and nonfiction.

Other new inductees, all deceased, include Josiah Johnson, a farmer who created sustainable agricultural markets for future generations of farmers. Albert Edwards was Hendersonville’s longest-serving mayor. Dr. Kenneth Cosgrove founded the first Pardee Intensive Care Facility, and his wife Eleanor served as Director Emeritus of the Blue Ridge Community College Education Foundation. Louise Bailey was a local author and historian, and dairy farmer Albert Browning, Jr. helped establish the Hendersonville Housing Authority. Grace Etheredge founded the Art League of Henderson County, and Frank Ewbank was a founding trustee of Blue Ridge Community College. One of the most enduring gifts to Henderson County was from another newly inducted Walk of Fame member, the late Robroy Farquhar, founder of Flat Rock Playhouse.

Beloved for his eccentricity, the late Robroy Farquhar established the state theater of North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Flat Rock Playhouse.

An English-born actor from Greenwich Village, New York, Farquhar formed an itinerant troupe called the Vagabond Players. After fighting under General Patton during World War II, Farquhar permanently resettled — along with his Vagabond Players — to Henderson County. By the early 1950s they had acquired a tract of land in Flat Rock, raised a circus tent, and officially launched the Flat Rock Playhouse. Farquhar, who loved animals, would sometimes introduce plays by handing out free kittens to the audience, like purring door prizes. Less than a decade after it opened, Flat Rock Playhouse was officially designated as the state theater of North Carolina. Today the professional venue has two facilities, hosts year-round plays and events to more than 98,000 patrons, and is deeply involved in community outreach and education.

Lisa K. Bryant, the Playhouse’s producing artistic director, thinks Farquhar would approve. She notes his dedication to Henderson County and its residents and says, “he would be so honored to know that his love … would be reflected back to him with his very own star.”

 markers for the 2018 honorees will be placed Sunday, May 6, at 2:30pm on King Street between Third and Fourth Avenues East. A fundraising banquet will follow at Carolina Village at 6pm. Guests are asked to park at the Epic Theater parking lot (U.S. Hwy. 64 East at Thompson Street). Shuttle buses to Carolina Village will be provided, beginning at 5pm. A wine-and-cheese reception in the Fireplace Lounge will precede the banquet at 5:30 p.m. Banquet tickets are $25 each. Tickets will be sold at the Visitors Information Center at 201 S. Main Street, Hendersonville. 828-693-9708.

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