More than 30,000 visitors attend AQS QuiltWeek annually. Hosted in Paducah, Kentucky, the home of the National Quilt Museum, the event ran from April 26 to 29, 2017. This international show featured more than 400 quilts by artists representing 40 states and 14 countries. I’m not a quilter, but even I stood in awe of the winners. My hands-down favorite is Celtic Fox by Kathy McNeil, which won its division in wall quilts.
My sister Patti’s own quilt, “Digging in the Dirt,” made the rigorous judging to be a semifinalist in the “First Time Quilters” division, competing against some forty others. Check out her website if you need a talented longarmer to match the beauty and skill of your quilt. Unlike a sewing machine, where the seamstress pushes the fabric beneath the stationary machine, the long-arm glides along a range, moved by the seamstress. Upon completing that section, the longarmer rolls up the quilt to expose a new section of the quilt.
QuiltWeek offers hundreds of vendors across the fabric arts, from fabrics to threads to sewing machines to longarm machines to yarns to Swarovski crystals to whatever your heart’s after. In
addition, dozens of experts teach techniques or offer projects—I came home with fabric art I made in one such class, with silk the instructor hand dyes. The show’s so huge that it fills the Expo center plus a “bubble” tent set up across the way. The National Quilt museum, a popular attraction with its ever-rotating stock of quilts, hosts extended hours. If you’re the show’s grand prize winner, the best quilt of all the quilts, you receive the highest sum if you release your quilt forever into the keeping of the National Quilt Museum.
The city of Paducah takes fantastic care of you, providing transportation across the venues. The owners of the businesses, their workers, everyone I’ve met seems to go out of their way to welcome you to their city. And with 30,000 extra folks, that means long hours (and extra cups of coffee that the manager of Shandies restaurant bought for his morning crew). My sister and I loved to start our day at Kirchoff’s, the historic German bakery going back five generations. The year of the great flood in 1937, one of the Kirchoff descendants baked for three days straight, knowing food would be scarce. He then delivered his loaves, via canoe, through second-storey windows. After the floodwaters receded, grateful residents inundated his doorstep with flowers. If you want baklava, pastries that flake in your mouth, brownies and other “bars” build on a foundation of butter and sugar and fresh ingredients, drop by
any day but Sunday. And if you’re there late enough on a Saturday, you might stumble upon their “buy a loaf, get loaf” special.
For exceptional coffee, visit Etcetera Coffeehouse. Smooth coffees and a host of inventive combinations offered up by the barristas. Our favorite became the Israel, a salted caramel coffee, delicious hot on the cold day, and iced on the hot day.
You’ve got to be fast on your reservations, or call after the Various “Quilt Week” deadlines pass. My sister and I love to stay at Auburn Place, a few miles out from the downtown. Pride in ownership means carpet that looks brand new, lemon water waiting for you downstairs, a selection of fresh fruit available all day, and coffee always available.
I hope you’ll visit Paducah, hiding in western Kentucky, whether during
QuiltWeek (the next one is September 13-16, 2017) or any other time. A city whose roots go back to water trade, and a textile town because of it, the historic downtown offers shops to pull you in and make you stay a spell, those eateries, and a mural along the floodwall.
This was my third visit to Paducah, and it won’t be my last.