Feedsacks offer more than material. Today, they’re a link to the past.

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Feedsacks were printed in a variety of patterns, but “your floral designs are probably more common around here,” says Vickey Elkins, a local feedsack collector. Here are a few examples that Mary McConnell saved from her years growing up in rural Webster County.


It’s likely many things about today’s world would surprise Ozarkers of yesteryear. Technological advances are an obvious example; it would be challenging to explain things like the internet, wi-fi and the ability to jet across the sea at a moment’s notice. But there’s something else that would likely make old-time Ozarkers scoff: The fact that their feedsacks are for sale — and some for upwards of $100 a pop.

Vickey Elkins stands with a portion of her feedsack collection at Missouri State University’s Ozarks Celebration Festival in 2015.

“I’ve given anywhere from probably $8 to $75 for a feedsack,” confesses Vickey Elkins, a collector from near Willard who developed a fascination for the sacks five or so years ago. “My grandma and my great-grandma made quilts all the time, and I know they used feedsack pieces, so that’s what sparked my interest,” she says.

That background provided Vickey with a goal when she began collecting. “I was going to buy enough feedsacks just to make a quilt,” she notes.

Vickey hasn’t made that quilt yet — “I will, one of these days,” — but it’s safe to say she has enough sacks for when the time comes. “I’ve never counted them, but I’d guess there’s over 400,” Vickey says of her collection — which, by the way, doesn’t have a price tag. “People come through all the time and ask if they’re for sale and no, they’re not,” she says. “Not yet.”

Young people don’t know what (feed sacks) are, and I think it’s important to keep the history of them alive,” says Vickey.

But there are some of those sacks that Vickey says she just couldn’t cut into pieces. Because, besides giving her personal satisfaction, having such a collection serves as an educational tool for younger generations.

“Young people don’t know what (feedsacks) are, and I think it’s important to keep the history of them alive,” says Vickey, who brought her collection to Missouri State University’s Ozarks Celebration Festival in 2015 to serve as a teaching tool. “They’ll come in and say, ‘Yeah, I’ve heard of a feedsack, but I don’t know what one is.’ And then they’re real interested to hear the history of it.”

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