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May 15, 2012 > Niles blooms in wildflowers, quilts, and art

Niles blooms in wildflowers, quilts, and art

By M. J. Laird
Photos By Jan Sparks

The Wildflower, Art, Garden and Quilt Show in Niles on Sunday, May 20 is expected to attract more than 500 people from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Now in its 19th year, the event gives the historic town a chance to showcase its best facets. Trains will run from Niles to Sunol, the film and train museums will be open, and a quilt show will decorate the Square where Niles recording artist and folk musician Michael McNevin and friends will entertain with a "trio of duos." In addition, more than 40 vendors are coming to town to line the street with an abundance of arts, crafts, and plants.

To pack more art into the event, Fremont Art Centre will host a fiber show this year, highlighting needlepoint, knitting, and crocheting, among other crafts. An unusual item in the fiber show is "Mother Nature," a two-foot doll created by Menlo Park artist Dianne Stevens.

Diana Liles, who serves on the Niles Main Street Association board that sponsors the event, encouraged the addition of quilts three years ago as a way to encourage visitors, who come to see the gardens, to linger and spend the day in Niles, poking their heads into Niles' unique shops and historic museums. More than 60 quilts will hang in the Square according to Liles, who along with her husband Chuck operates Color Me Quilts and More. The store, now in its fifth year in Niles, sells materials for quilting and offers quilting classes.

Quilts for the displays are arriving from Sacramento, San Jose and Placerville. Local quilters have also offered some of their best work; Kidango Child Care Centers will display a quilt of children's artwork. Local quilting organizations will raffle quilts to raise money to fund donations of quilts to local agencies and organizations as their primary public service projects.

Returning this year are two authors who incorporate quilting into their writings. Zoe Gustin of Santa Clara, who weaves the art into her series books for children, will be selling and signing books. Having written of her life as a war bride in Hitler's Germany, Maya Torngren returns with a book about her life and the quilt she created to reflect her experience.

The Niles Depot and Model Railroads Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and starting at 4 p.m., Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum will feature a 1962 KPIX documentary on the building of the Golden Gate Bridge, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this month. Patterson House Manager Randy Hees will give a talk at the Essanay on the significance of the Niles railroad and its bridges (suggested donation: $5).

A self-guided garden tour will feature at least six Niles gardens including a Tuscan villa style, one with a painted mural of Niles' history, a workable-edible garden, as well as a cactus garden, among others.

Liles is expecting that the charm of Niles will encourage people to visit Niles' businesses. Fourteen shops will offer a charm for $2 each that can be assembled into bracelets at a stand outside Kiowa Rose bead shop.

Last year rain put a damper on attendance. This year, a solar eclipse will occur on May 20, but Liles is optimistic that people will celebrate the celestial event by spending a leisurely day in one of Fremont 's lovely historic locations.

Tickets for the garden tour are available online at for $12 or for $15 the day of the show. For more information contact Diana Liles at (510) 792-6567 or visit

Wildflower, Art, Garden & Quilt Show
Sunday, May 20
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Downtown Niles
(510) 792-6567

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