I traveled with several friends, one of whom secured us a place to stay on Lake Barkley, about 40 minutes out from Paducah. It was a great kick-your-feet-back kind of place, perfect after a day of trudging through the AQS show's many venues.
And it was helpful that two of my friends had been to the show before and knew what to see, what to take a pass on, and how much time to allot for various things.
Paducah was lovely--roses and magnolias in bloom, and a huge civic red carpet rolled out everywhere we went. The yearly influx of women-of-a-certain-age with spending money has to be huge for their local economy.
At the show itself, the quilts were mind-blowing. The workmanship bar is very high indeed and such levels of artistry definitely grab the viewer. I'm so pleased to see the state of the art in long-arm quilting--I remember how primitive it all was about 15 years ago.
That said, my personal show highlights don't include the all big and showiest ribbon-winners. As I look through my photos, I didn't even photograph most of the top winners; they were just not my kind of quilts. I love piecing, and many of my favorite quilts were heavily and intricately pieced. They weren't trying to make statements, or showcase machine expertise. They just made me very happy to look at them.
One other personal observation--I wish Swarovski crystals had never been invented. Just saying...
And my personal best-of-show award? This joyous confection, below, made by Lahala Phelps of Bonney Lake, Washington. I will probably never be comfortable with applique myself, but I know a happy quilt when I see one.
We spent one day road-tripping, and discovered tiny and sweet Cadiz, Kentucky. We thoroughly explored several antique malls and I'm still dreaming about a particular mellow and wonderful mid-1800s walnut cupboard in one Cadiz antique shop. No room for that in the car...sigh. But the highlight of that day was finding Reva's Place, a restaurant with a stellar lunch buffet of friend catfish and chicken, hushpuppies, stewed apples, green beans with country ham, fried okra, and chess pie, lemon cake, and carrot cake.
Weight Watchers flew out the window there, but WHERE in Wisconsin would we ever find a spread like that? So glad my buddies and I have a firm rule of "no chain restaurants".
Back home now, and raring to go....