Paducah Quilt Show U.S.A., April 2015 - by Eleanor

Good morning, afternoon, evening ladies.   
I made copious notes on a daily basis for the 17 days we were in the  States and it has taken me ages to decipher the various squiggles, to now put it in some sort of order.   The trip was organised by Judi Mendellsohn, who was assistant editor of Practical Quilting or Patchwork & Quilting some years ago, she has now been running various quilting tours for about eight years now. 

We arrived in Minneapolis on Friday 10th April,  met by our coach and driver Dick for the next 17 days.  Dropped stuff off at the hotel and were taken out to the biggest mall in America - four levels of shops and a fairground in the middle of the ground floor, quite awesome.  Got back to hotel by 9 p.m. and just fell into bed until 8 a.m. (3 p.m. gmt) the following morning.  Went back to the mall where I bought a (gummy bear) requested by my grandson all 5 lbs of it about a ft high made of gum.  Should have thought about it...the weight, (more later). 

Left Minneapolis for a place called Cedar Rapids, Iowa for one night to break up the journey to the next stop.  Had dinner in a place called "Hard Luck Café", truckers etc., but it wasn't that bad.  The following morning we left for Illinois, and Kinderhook Lodge a small lodge run by a family of Amish people - wonderful.  We were there for three days and couldn't fault the place or the home cooked food.  Real prairie land.  We did three small workshops there, a picture, a pin cushion and broderie perse. This place was situated between three states Iowa, Illinois and Missouri each side of the great MISSISSIPPI.  Next quilt shop, The Hickory Stick, in Hannibal,  home of Mark Twain. Very interesting town with loads of history of which the Americans are very proud.   Very sad to leave this town the following morning but headed off to Kalona another Amish town and Amana an historical Amish village where we had a lecture/demonstration of all thing Amish. This is the town where the streets are paved with quilts!!.  Especially  of interest was the store of thousands of quilts, beautifully stored and kept.  We visited a wood store where they made the most beautiful creative wood. (I spent a fortune in there) next stop Stitch and Sew quilt shop.  At this point we already had so much stuff we sent a couple of parcels home.  We went to a typical Amish home for dinner one night and breakfast the following morning, fantastic hospitality.  Whilst we were in another quilt shop called Inspirations our breakfast hostess Eaddie who had come with us, heard me asking if there was any tea (they provided coffee), came and told me when we took her home she would get me some tea bags.  However, the arrangements were changed so I didn't get my tea bags.   Shortly after arriving back at the hotel I heard somebody calling for Eleanor, yes it was Eaddie with my tea bags, she had made a special journey.  So helpful and gracious the Amish are. 

HOPE YOU ARE NOT GETTING TOO BORED BY NOW. The following morning we set out on a 250 mile drive to St Louis through heavy storms. Fortunately the rain stopped and we were able to go to the baseball stadium where we watched the St. Louis Cardinals play against the Cincinnati Reds. SLC won  2-1.  Juanita and I got lost coming out of the stadium and ended up getting a "bicycle taxi" back to the hotel. The following day we went to St. Louis Basilica and then on to the Gateway Arch (gateway to the west) and to yet another quilt shop.  The following day we finally arrived in Paducah, Kentucky for the quilt show,  the reason for our visit to the USA.  We started with a visit to Hancocks quilt shop, absolutely enormous, quite obscene really. Too much to take in, especially after our four hour drive. From there we went to the Rotary Club, loads of old antique quilts for sale, very expensive but we still managed to spend on yet more fabric. We were taken the following morning on a tour of Paducah, our guide was a crazy guy called Fowler Brent, he was dressed in patchwork.   Paducah  is mainly populated by all sorts of artists.  The flood walls are to protect the town from being flooded by the Mississippi as had happened once.  These walls have been painted over the last 10/15 years by only two artists, depicting various events in the history of Paducah - but nothing quilting!!!  The population of Paducah is only 25,000 which doubles in quilt week.  The town is a bit run down but has slowly been renovated because the really run down properties were sold for 1 penny with a proviso of renovation to the property.  

So then on to the show, unbelievable.  The quality of the quilting both hand and machine, I  can't just emphasise enough how fantastic all of the quilts, without exception, were.   The next day we went to the National Quilt Museum where all the quilts of previous winners of the show are kept.  We just walked round there in silent awe.   I still can't believe that these things were made with a needle and thread, they looked like paintings.  I think some did have some paint in them but most just thread.  Our own Phillipa Naylor has a couple  there, good for GB.  Incidently, before we went I had my thumb nails painted with a union flag on each. The Americans loved them. The town is full of antique shops and all sell quilts and fabric.  Old very small sewing machines costing from $350 to $1300, the quilts as well cost from $150 to $1500.  In fact one of our ladies bought one for £800.  

We went to see a play "The Three Witches" in the town but I found that I couldn't hear properly as the Americans speak so fast, it was all a bit wasted on me.  We decided to give quilting a miss and went to Nashville on the Friday. Wonderful, spent six hours just walking, listening and looking at all the styles, big boots and big hats.  Everywhere music blasted out from both bars and ordinary shops.  Went to the Johnny Cash museum, bought c.d.s and the in inevitable tee shirts.  On our last day of the show we looked and shopped some more and there in front of me was Ricky Timms in his big hat and big boots.  I was about to take a picture of him when he looked over and asked if I wanted a "selfi", so Juanita took several pictures of myself with the man himself.

Sadly  Sunday came all too quickly and it was time for us to head for the airport where despite sending a parcel home I had to pay $91 excess luggage, so be warned do not buy 5 lb gummy bears for your grandchildren.

When I first saw the trip I thought it was expensive but it was worth every penny even the excess luggage bill. There is another trip in September to Colorado and another in January to Japan, I am sorely tempted.  Hope you have enjoyed and not been too bored.