The Lancaster Show

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!


Pat said…
In the past, I've gone to the Lancaster show as my personal "vacation". My husband goes fishing with his buddies every year, so the Lancaster show was my fishing trip. I'd go for the duration & take classes. When the news of the switch came out & the list of classes appeared, there was nothing that moved me. At all. And all of the classes were half-day classes. If I'm going to take a class & schlep my machine, I want a full day.

Of course a special quilting retreat has provided the "vacation" piece, and has provided the opportunity to bond with quilty friends. The side trips to the local shops have provided all I need in the way of fabric bargains.

Thanks for going to the new show, Nance, and giving an unbiased review. Your mention of the bazillion attendees really nailed it for me, claustrophobe that I am. Maybe next year, or the next. Maybe. If I feel the need to go to a show, I'll prolly (grin) opt for the one in Oaks. Much closer.
Susan said…
Enjoyed your review of the show. I had a nice day there on Thursday, thanks to the company of two friends. But I agree about the bazillion people and the small booths (although I understand there were not as many people on Wednesday). On Thursday, there were some strollers in the hall and one lady was letting her child push it--right onto my foot! And I also agree about the quilts and wondered, as you did whether the more traditional ones were at the other location. We ate in the lobby of the Marriott and could barely find a place to sit down. And the lines for the shuttle buses were long.

Still, I managed to make a number of purchases, and pick up business cards for those things I might want to consider later.

Will I go next year? It depends. I want to try Quilt Odyssey this summer in Hershey since I've never been. If that show is good, maybe I'll make that my annual jaunt. Parking is free and right next to the venue and there's all that chocolate.
Lori said…
Thanks for the update. This is one quilt show I haven't been to but maybe I'll wait a couple of years and see if they work out the bugs.
Nancy said…
What a great review of the quilt show. You need to send the link to AQS... they need to know.

I can't wait for Paducah...
Mrs. Goodneedle said…
Glad you had the experience and, for the record, I understand precisely what you're saying about machine quilting the daylight out of the quilts on display. I felt the same way after being at Mid-Atlantic... almost like it was a contest to see who could use the most thread! ;)
Barb said…
Thank you for your report, I had hoped that the Lancaster Show would pull together, but I guess not! For years that was my show of choice, and it became more disjointed and seemed poorly organized to me! I too would miss seeing "Itch to Stitch" in their vendor spot!

I have for the past several years attended the Quilt Odyssey Show in Hershey, I truly enjoy everything about that show. Missy and her helpers have it very well organized, and the vendors are nicely placed. I am glad I made the change, and it appears it is a good change for me! I take classes, I shop the vendors, I love it all at Quilt Odyssey! Have a great weekend!
Pat said…
I spoke with Gina Gempeshaw at Country Quiltworks today. She went to Lancaster on Wednesday. That must have been the day to go; she said it was not crowded. I think the place you did not get to, Nancy, was where the bed quilts were displayed. Gina said they were there, but the dispays in general were thin. She also agreed that there were a lot of thematic displays and not many diplays with quilts someone might actually use on a bed. She attributed the lack of depth in quilts and the derth of quality classes to AQS having to mount this show in a relatively short period of time. She also said that the old Blossom Quilt Show, which is across the street from the Country Host,it now a part of the AQS show, even though it remains at the funky little motel. Some of the dealers who were originally at Blossom were "asked" to move to the main Convention Center & did. They were placed on the 3rd floor of the convention center & as a result were not seeing as much action. Again, Gina went on Wednesday so that might have changed.

I guess we'll have to see how it all plays out in the next few years.
Anya said…
I'm still too tired to blog about the show myself.

You're right about the crowds, that's for sure. I'm glad I wasn't there on a weekend!
Tanya said…
OOH! Kitty fabric! Yeah! I have been to ONE quilt show in my lifetime (the one in Tokyo) and that was really BAZILLIONS! Glad you had a good time!
Salem Stitcher said…
Sounds a lot like the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival before they moved it from Williamsburg to Hampton. Crowded, cramped and a confusing layout for those new to the show. I had fleeting thoughts of adding the Lancaster show to my road trips. I may wait a couple of years and let them get the kinks worked out. Thanks for the intel!
Judi said…
Thanks so much for your report on the show, Nancy. I suppose everyone should take heart that there were crowds - no fun for attendees, but a comfort for oranisers and vendors!

You mention "the best quilting needles in the world" but don't say what they are - care to share?
carole ann said…
Nancy I could not agree with you more, I had never been to the show before and was not very impressed. It was more a vender show than a quilt show. Also I did not do my homework very well because I did not know there were quilts anywhere else. I cannot make Hershey this year but will next year. I did enjoy what quilts I did see, there were amazing, just not what I was expecting. Thanks for the report.
Mary said…
I look forward to the Lancaster show all winter. I'm a Chester County girl so I don't drive far to get there. I was glad I did not take my Mother with me this year, she never would have been able to get around. I did not realize that the show was in 3 different locations. My favorite vendor is Bonnie Blue and I had a heck of a time finding her booth.
I was told by one of the Amish ladies who work at Zooks that AQS signed a 3 year contract with the convention center. Hope not. I did sent AQS a email expressing my displeasure in the show this year. I hope more people will do the same. Mancuso puts on a show in Oaks Pa
in Sept I went last year and it was nice. Thanks for your review of the show. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who was not all that impressed.