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American Quilter's Society announces 2nd Paducah Quilt Week

BY KAYLAN THOMPSON kthompson@paducahsun.com

P

aducah's small-town demeanor, historic city and creative community offers a trifecta for quilting enthusiasts worldwide as they gear up each spring for the annual American Quilter's Society Quilt Week in Paducah.

And now, Paducah will have a second yearly show, coming in September of 2017.

"We're really excited about that, and we think it's a great thing," AQS President Meredith Schroeder said when she announced the second show in March.

"We believe there will be many more people that will come to Paducah and experience the AQS quilt show. You know, people want to come to Paducah because everybody's so good to them, and that's what they love about Paducah. That's the great thing."

Following the 33rd annual spring show in April, the inaugural fall show will run Sept. 13-16, 2017, with a new contest, more prizes, and new featured events and workshops. Both the spring and fall shows will feature $125,000 in prizes.

"[A second show] really is huge," said Bonnie Browning, executive show director. "We know the atmosphere that quilters love to be in, and quilters love Paducah. I just can't even tell you how much they enjoy being here and enjoy walking down from the convention center to the quilt museum, down to the riverfront and around downtown. Believe me, you can't do that in every city."

Paducah is one of eight U.S. cities annually playing host to AQS Quilt Weeks, including Daytona Beach, Phoenix and Chattanooga.

Browning said visitors register from across the globe, with about 45 states and 15 countries typically represented in Paducah alone.

"So we really do bring in people from around the world. And, you know what? Paducah's on the bucket list of every quilter. Everyone wants to come to Paducah," she said.

Paducah's is the largest show based on attendance, with nearly 33,000 visitors in 2016 and around 500 quilts displayed.

"Primarily, it's that the small town atmosphere and the Southern hospitality kind of go hand-in-hand," Browning said. "And it's the friendliness of everybody they come in contact with. So, I think people need to be proud of what we have to offer and to really embrace the fact that these quilters are here spending money."

An economic survey conducted by the society in 2014 revealed that each Quilt Week visitor spends about $270 a day. That's about $25.4 million in the region over the course of the week.

The survey also showed that 31 percent of the visitors attended other local attractions during their visit. Over two-thirds of visitors had never been to Paducah before, and 96 percent said they would come again.

"Quite literally, the quilters pretty much take over the city. They take over the show, they take over the restaurants, they take over the hotels, just for this one week," Browning said. "That's one of the reasons we have worked so hard to get a second show here. We know what kind of benefit it has for our local businesses, and if we were going to do another show anywhere, we wanted a second show here in Paducah."

The fall show, Browning said, will offer a completely different experience that will augment, not compete with, the spring show.

"We're looking at doing things differently when we do the fall show," she said. "We're working on a brand new contest with different categories. Then, we're looking how we can change up the layout and looking at different events. So we will make it a totally different and unique experience for the quilters when they come during the fall of the year and the springtime."

For locals who may not know the gems that lie in their own backyard, Browning suggested stopping by the National Quilt Museum to get a taste of the art form.

"No one else has the National Quilt Museum of the United States of America in their city," she said.

"There is only one, so I would encourage all of the people who live in this community to, No. 1, go see what they have there. These aren't the kind of quilts that you and I would put on a bed. These quilts are beautiful pieces of fiber art that have been stitched together. Regardless of whether you're talking about the quilt show or the quilt museum, both of those provide a gallery-like setting for some of the best fiber art being produced today."

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