Girl's quilt stolen from county fair display

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Reward offered for leads

Contributed Photo

A twin-sized quilt exhibited at the Oconto County Fair by Elizabeth Ciancio was reportedly stolen from the fairgrounds’ Expo Building on Friday. Ciancio received a blue ribbon for the quilt Thursday. This photo was taken at a Hintz 4-H meeting earlier this year when Ciancio told members how she made the quilt with her grandmother.

A blue-ribbon quilt stitched together by a Gillett girl and her grandmother was reported missing Friday from the exhibit building of the Oconto County Fair.

Hintz 4-H member Elizabeth Ciancio exhibited her quilt Thursday, then returned to the fairgrounds Friday afternoon with her family, only to find her quilt gone. Elizabeth has been quilting since she was 5 and has made several quilts, but this was the first she made for herself and the first to be exhibited at the Oconto County Fair.

Her mother, Sarah Ciancio, said Elizabeth was upset about the loss.

“After we had discovered it was stolen she said, ‘I will never put anything into the fair again,’ ” Sarah Ciancio said.

The Oconto County Fair Board is offering a $250 reward and the Ciancio family is offering $60 for information that will lead to the return of the quilt. Individuals may also be eligible for a Crime Stoppers award of up to $1,000 for helping to recover the quilt. The number to call or text for Crime Stoppers is 800-322-0373.

Fair Secretary Ken Harter said the fair board will review its security measures before the 2014 fair. He said it’s the first time a theft like this has been reported.

“It was a big quilt. That’s one of the things that’s amazing. It was a twin-sized quilt,” he said. “How somebody could make off with it …”

Elizabeth, 10, chose the hot pink and black fabric to match her new bedroom. The family recently remodeled and added the room, which she decorated with a black- and pink-zebra theme.

That’s not the only thing special about the quilt.

“There’s obviously nothing that can replace all the time she put into it with her grandmother, and it would’ve been a lifelong keepsake, that’s for sure,” Sarah Ciancio said.

After hearing of the theft, several people offered Elizabeth cash donations, with the stipulation she make another quilt and exhibit it at the fair.

“It kind of restored faith in the fair for that family,” Harter said.

Elizabeth worked on the quilt for over a year with her grandmother, Lynn Jones, beginning at Quilt Camp, a one-day workshop sponsored through 4-H. She won first place, and the quilt was selected for display at the Fall Project Kick-off, an event that showcases opportunities in 4-H.

This is Elizabeth’s second year in 4-H, and the quilt was the only item she exhibited.

A police report was filed and posters were on display at the fair, but according to Harter, there are no leads.

A bracelet was also reported missing from an unlocked display case. Materials to make the bracelet cost $10, Harter said.

Locking display cabinets will be a likely change for the 2014 fair, along with other practices.

“Basically, I think we’re going to have to provide more security … maybe assign Fair Board members or some volunteer who can be in the building just wandering and watching,” he said.

Exhibits may also be less accessible to the public, who now can reach out and touch most of the entries on display, although signs warn against it.

“We do not have any security cameras, so we’re re-evaluating what we can do,” Harter said.