Big passion for P.E.I. Women's Institute handcraft exhibition despite fewer entries

The P.E.I. Women's Institute handcraft exhibition is a big part of Old Home Week and organizers say even though entries have decreased over the last decade, there is still a passion for the traditional crafts.

'I like the competition, and to see how good my work is'

Roberta Giddings has competed for more than a decade. 'I think the competition is really good,' she says. (Laura Meader/CBC)

This year marks the 95th Handcrafts, Horticulture and Arts show for the P.E.I. Women's Institute, and although organizers have seen entry numbers drop over the last decade, there is still a big passion for the tradition. 

"There's good competition, but I'm finding over the years there's not as many," said Roberta Giddings, a competitor who enters every year.

Giddings usually enters in categories for quilting, sewing and other handcrafts. 

"I like the competition, and to see how good my work is," she said. 

Entries down

Organizers say over the last decade, entries have dropped. 

Pat MacKinnon, one of the chairs for the exhibition, estimates there's been about a 30 per cent decline. 

The exhibition features everything from homemade toys to needlework. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Still, this year there were 322 entries in various categories. 

"I certainly hope it will continue, I mean it's been going on for years now and we don't want to see it end," MacKinnon said. 

Pat MacKinnon says it's an 'adrenaline rush' getting the show set up. (Laura Meader/CBC)

She said daily life has changed for a lot of people, and some may not have time for sewing, quilting or other traditional crafts. 

MacKinnon said many of the competitors are in their senior years. There's even a Golden Years category for those 75 years and older. 

A doily takes first prize at the Women's Institute show. (Laura Meader/CBC)

However, she believes younger people will join in too, when time allows.  

"We hope some day they will find the time in their busy lives to join," MacKinnon said. 

Passion for exhibition

A steady stream of people still check out the displays and there is admiration for the hours of work put into the entries. 

Members of the Women's Institue look over entries in the quilting room. (Laura Meader/CBC)

MacKinnon said competitors spend countless hours perfecting their entries, whether it be crocheting, quilt making, baking or flower arranging.  

"They probably spend the whole year getting prepared to exhibit," said MacKinnon.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Laura Meader


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.