BROOKSVILLE — The word "bee" has several meanings. Among them is a social gathering, where friends and neighbors join together to work toward a common goal.
Quiltmaking became a popular activity in 19th century America, and quilting bees offered women a chance to socialize. It was a practice that continued into the 20th century and is kept alive even today.
"In the 1960s and '70s, I worked for the welfare department in a rural district in northern Florida," recalled Suzanne Touchton, a volunteer with the Hernando Historical Museum Association. "There were these old houses up on blocks, with the women quilting on the porch. … Their hands would be going a mile a minute. It was amazing to watch."
Local residents will have an opportunity to participate in an old-fashioned quilting bee Saturday as part of the annual quilting exhibit opening celebration at the Hernando Heritage Museum in downtown Brooksville.
Event organizer Lee-Anne Shoeman said participants do not have to know how to quilt.
"Our quilting bee is for quilters and nonquilters, as it will be more of a quilting lesson," she said.
The bee will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until noon. The event will also include demonstrations, games, prizes and food.
Other activities will include a trunk show at noon with Brenda Grampsas, a lifelong seamstress and quilter and a certified appraiser of quilts with the American Quilter's Society. Grampsas will discuss the history, technique and care of quilts.
Linda Wade of Treadle Treasures will lecture at 1 p.m. on the history of sewing. She will also give a demonstration on treadle machine quilting.
Among several games will be Quilt Block Wheel of Fortune, in which players fill in the missing letters of quilt block names.
The exhibit will feature at least 30 quilts. The porch of the museum will be filled with quilts, some hanging and others on display stands. Some will be from the museum; others are on loan from area residents.
Some of the quilts will be inside and can be seen only by paying for a tour of the museum — among them a 6- by 8-foot quilt on the second floor of the old Victorian home.
"That quilt has thousands of little pieces that make it look like a glass window," Touchton said. "It is just beautiful."
After Saturday's festivities, the exhibit will continue through the end of July.