There is one event the entire year revolves around. There is one event every Kentuckian around me loves but also dreads. The tourists. The crowds. The traffic.
The Kentucky Derby?!?!
Nope! That's for you central Kentuckians. Over here in Western Kentucky, the event of the year is the AQS Quilt Show. Starting early this week, the streets of Paducah will start to fill with quilters from near as far (seriously, FAR, as in Japan far) and really live up to its name The Quilting Capital OF. THE. WORLD.
The Quilt Show transforms the entire town. I will never forget the first year I moved back. I walked into my favorite coffee shop downtown only to find the front had been filled with fabric bolts of every color. Coffee shop/Fabric store! Only during the Quilt Show.
Some less enthusiastic citizens complain about The Quilt Show. These are the people who have never actually gone to the Convention Center and taken in the beauty and artistry that is competitive quilting. These are the people who prefer to frown over the slightest change in their routine and giggle at the ladies in their quilted vests. These are the people who don't even go down town the entire week for fear of being confronted by someone not from Paducah!
These are not my people.
I'm very lucky to have my own quilting tour guides every year. My husband's parents run Planet Patchwork, a popular quilting website, and have been coming to the Show for years. (That's how I knew Nicholas and I were meant to be. He took me to the Quilt Museum on his first visit to Paducah and showed me his father's endorsements in the front of all the quilting books.) They show me all the best shops and shows. We eat at the church quilting luncheons. It's a blast to be a foreigner in your own town.
So, as the rest of Kentucky gears up for a little horse race, Paducah will be living large with the quilters. If you're not from around here, I encourage you to come by. And if you are from Paducah and have never embraced the Quilt Show in all its glory, it truly is your loss.
~ Sarah Stewart Holland