I spent yesterday attending the AQS show in Lancaster, the new event that is replacing the Rita Barber extravaganza that we've become familiar with. Here, in no particular order, are my comments on the day:
- In Sight of the Site -- There is no parking at the Convention Center. There are a lot of garages and lots that are not terribly far away, but by golly, I was glad I was not accompanying a quilter in a wheelchair as we trudged up that hill and I was glad it wasn't raining -- that would have made for a miserable day!
- Escalators and Elevators vs. Tennis Courts -- The show was on three levels of the Convention Center, inside ballrooms on each level. It was easy to get from one level to the next and back again, and there was no long walk to the next venue, the way there is at The Host. Easier on the legs. There was a fourth show location, but it was necessary to take a shuttle bus out there, and that didn't happen for me. As we were leaving the Convention Center, we saw a long line of people waiting for the shuttle.
- Is It Possible to Machine Quilt a Piece Leaving no more than 1/16th of an Inch Uncovered? Sometimes I felt like I was attending a machine quilting exposition rather than a general quilt show. It was splendid machine quilting, to be sure. But still.
- Not a Quilt to Sleep Under -- My feeling about the old Quilters' Heritage Celebration was that it turned into showing far more art quilts than actual bed quilts. I like a nice mix. You know what I mean. This show was even more that way, unless the remote location was where all of the sweet dreams quilts were shown.
- How Do I Get Outta Here? -- The rooms where the quilts were shown had banks of doors on two sides with groups of quilts surrounded by groups of vendors. I found the set-up disorienting and actually went back to the second floor venue to make sure I had seen everything. Once inside a ballroom, I tended to get turned around and become totally uncertain as to where I was. I had visions of a claustrophobe having a meltdown. The vendors' booths seemed smaller than at the Host.
- But That's Not All! For Today Only . . . -- There were lots of vendors, many of them new to me. And a lot of the familiar ones weren't there. Many of the vendors were booths featuring one particular gadget, with a person demonstrating and hawking her wares. A couple of the gadgets were intriguing, especially one that helped make square-in-a-square blocks, flying geese, and perfect HSTs. But I didn't bite. I missed the Itching to Stitch booth that used to take up half of one length of the Tennis Courts. I missed a couple of others I'd come to rely on, like the Featherweight lady (turn right upon entering the Tennis Courts) who sold the very best hand-quilting needles ever. Though they may well have been out at the remote location with the elusive bed quilts. And there were all manner of machine quilting vendors. Lots and lots of them. One had a Mennonite woman (or at least a Mennonite-attired woman) demonstrating. Which was a bit incongruous.
- O, the Humanity! There were precisely three bazillion persons in attendance. And most of them were standing in groups of four to six, right in the middle of the vendor aisles, having lengthy conversations. There were no wheeled carts or strollers permitted, which was wonderful. People were pleasant and polite. There were just so many of them.
- Time to Eat! -- There were multiple locations to grab some lunch, short lines, courteous cashiers, and abundant tables and chairs for eating it. There were also different kinds of offerings -- sandwiches, some personal pizzas, and I enjoyed a do-it-yourself taco salad bar.
- Where's Our Crossing Guard? On the way home from the show, we did stop at the "renegade mall," you know, the group of wonderful vendors at the Continental across the street from the Host. We were fortunate to get a close-in parking spot. And many of the familiar vendors were there -- I finally found some fabric I wanted to buy (see goods for two pillowcases for two little people I adore as well as a handful of CWs for that Farmer's Wife) which really hadn't been the case at the main part of the show. The Hmong people were there, as usual, along with Cottonseed Glory, and some of the others that I regularly patronize. The FQ packs, by and large, were massive ones, costing upwards of $80. There were some smaller collections, but not a lot. The vendors would have been wise to have some impulse purchases of FQ packs under $20, I think.
- Make New Friends and Keep the Old -- I traveled to and from the show with a woman I had barely known before I got into her car. She's a parent of an alum who popped into my office one day to discuss the quilt on my wall, and then came back a couple more times. Within about five minutes on the road, I felt like I'd known Bobbi No Blog for years, and thoroughly enjoyed her company. She's someone I'll be seeing again, I suspect.
- Give It Some Time -- I doubt I'll go back to this show right away next year. But prolly a year or two after that, when they've had some time to refine it. There's potential. But it's not quite there yet. Turbo and Helen, take heart -- you didn't miss that much!
And that's the news from AQS Lancaster!