2016 AQS Paducah Quilt Show – Quilt Week begins Sunday April 17th
I’m looking forward to returning to Quilt City USA, also known as Paducah, Kentucky for Quilt Week and the annual AQS Quilt Show & Contest, joining around 30,000 other quilting fanatics in what is essentially an annual convention, complete with a festival atmosphere.
The official AQS Quilt Show doesn’t begin until Weds April, 20th and runs through April 23rd. But it isn’t called Quilt Week as a hyperbole because there are lots of quilting related activities that start before the 23rd.
The National Quilt Museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary and will be featuring specials exhibits for quilt week, beginning Sunday, April 17th.
The Hotel Metropolitan will be exhibiting African American Underground Railroad Quilts
Many other events are going on in the area. We always try to arrive a little early to catch the Dogwoods in bloom and do the Paducah Dogwood Trail tour. You can follow the signs in your own car or ride one of the special city buses that run the tour trail. Paducah quilt and fabric shops always have specials going on during quilt week, for example Hancocks of Paducah is always crazy with tons of shoppers looking for deals. There’s also a satellite quilting event with vendors and exhibits at the Mall at the west end of town.
The show is located close to downtown Paducah and the River Front so there are lots of neat restaurants, pubs, shops, and boutiques to visit. Paducah’s Floodwall Murals are outstanding both as works of art and a walking tour history lesson. My husband Ross often goes with me to the show as the town is so alive with so many things to do other than the AQS show itself. But one of his favorite Paducah entertainment options is on the Paducah area golf courses (see his recent reviews here). And I know he is looking forward to getting back on the links again this year.
On the way home from our spring trip Jo and I decided to stop by Paducah to see how preparations were going for the big 2012 Paducah Quilt Show & Quilters Convention. Last year tornadoes, severe storms, and floods almost cancelled the show. The main show site, the Convention Center, couldn’t be used because it was surrounded by water. Eleanor Burn’s Quilt for a Day tent show and fabric sale, always a big satellite event to the show, was hurt badly. A storm just before opening day tore up one of the tents and rain and flooding waters ruined tens of thousands of dollars of merchandise. Even though Mother Nature threw floods and tornadoes, show organizers did an excellent job of scrambling to find several alternate locations for show events and the show did go on.
This year based on our March 29th visit, all is in place to host a terrific show. Lack of snow in the upper midwest has left rivers lower than normal. Just in case reservoirs are also running lower than normal spring levels. So the chance of another flood changing the show are impossibly small. The slightly remodeled convention center is all set and since the removal of the debris from the demolished hotel adjacent to the convention center there is a good deal more parking space close to the center of Quilt Show activities. The inflatable Dome is already in place and all systems are go.
Go to our regular web pages to find out more the Paducah Show and links to the AQS website for the 2012 show.
While we were in town we stopped at Whaler’s Catch for lunch. Whalers is a favorite during the Quilt Show because of its location, decent food and their spacious two story outdoor dining deck. It was a perfect spring day in the 70s so we dined outdoors on the deck. We had sandwich baskets and beverages for less than $20. Very large portion size with nice trimmings – leaf lettuce, onions, and tomato slices + fries. Free refills on the beverages and good wait service.
Also while we in town we couldn’t escape without a visit to Eleanor Burn’s Quilt in a Day shop. Jo found some fabric she needed to complete a project.
On the way home to Wisconsin we stopped at the Rend Lake Corps Gun Creek Campground near Benton, IL. About 90 miles north of Paducah this is a good stop over for our last day at the Paducah Quilt Show. In addition to very well designed and maintained RV sites, it offers an additional attraction to Ross and other golfing spouses who indulge their wives’ passion for the Quilt Show. This attraction is an excellent 27 hole golf course essentially adjacent to the camp ground. The course is quite scenic, well-maintained with paved cart paths, electric golf carts, and a nice variety of tee boxes. At the end of March, the fairways and greens were in very good spring condition. The three mens tees range from about 6000 yards for 18 holes from the senior tees to over 6800 yards from the blue tees. Rend Lake Golf Course website.
Tyler Quilt Show and interesting things to see and do during the Azalea Festival
Jo and I traveled to Tyler Texas to attend the 31st annual Azalea Quilt Show sponsored by the Quilters’ Guild of East Texas. (The 37th annual event will be held March 23-24, 2018) The event is held on the third or fourth weekend of March to coincide with Tyler’s Annual Azalea & Spring Flower Festival. The event is held at the Harvey Convention Center in the center of Tyler. This location was excellent. Although located in the center of Tyler it was easy to find, had plenty of free parking adjacent to the convention center, and the auditorium exhibit room was well-lighted and comfortable. For a regional show Jo felt they had a number of well-crafted quilts in the competition.
Here’s one of many quilts we liked. This one is “Stars and Tumblers – A little bit of Blue” submitted by Rebecca Yarbrough.
One of the attractions of attending this show, driving all the way from Wisconsin, was also being able to tour the Azalea & Spring Flower Trail in Tyler. The Convention & Visitors Bureau and various civic groups and garden clubs have joined together to create a network of tour trails throughout a portion of Tyler. Most can be toured by automobile but some homeowners have opened up their yards for walking tours as well. A number of the homes on the tour are listed as historic homes; others while not historic are quite distinctive. It is evident that many homeowners in Tyler take great pride in creating extensive azalea and spring flowering gardens. During the two week tour festival, there are also scheduled tours of historic homes, an arts & crafts festival, the annual Rotary Chili Cook Off competition, and tours of the historic Roseland Plantation as well as a number of other events.
But that’s not all that brought us to Tyler for the Quilt Show. In nearby Rusk Texas the Texas State Railroad runs its annual spring Steam Train excursions through the piney woods between Rusk and Palestine. Having enjoyed similar old time railroad excursions along Duluth’s North Shore and along the Mississippi River, we thought it would be fun to sample the experience in Texas. We were not disappointed. The Texas State Railroad attends to all the details to make sure your ride is a step back in time to the grand old days of railroad travel. Steam Engine 300 is a 83 ton 1917 Baldwin 2-8-0 and its cars date back to the 1920s.
The final element of attraction (and a major one for Ross) for the Tyler Quilt Show was golfing. Although there are several courses in the area, we were only able to work in one outing on this trip to the Peachtree-Oakhurst golf course about 10 miles south of Tyler near the town of Bullard.
The Oakhurst Golf course is an attractive course with a choice of 5 tee boxes. Rolling terrain with groves of trees helping to divide the fairways from one another as well as ad visual interest to the overall layout. Water on ten holes added to the scenic attraction as well as the challenge. I found the course challenging, but fair and enjoyable. The fairways and greens were in good condition. I particularly liked the fact that the fairways use a mixture of grass other than Bermuda which you sometimes find at other mid-south golf courses. Bermuda is great for tolerating summer heat but it is worthless for a spring golfing experience in the mid-south where winter temperatures have killed the grass and it won’t green up until overnight temperatures are in the 70s. I’ll post more pictures from Oakhurst and other golfing details in our regular pages.
Coincidentally when packing up after golfing we struck up a conversation with another couple who just finished the course, Illeice and Al Baker. Turned out that Illeice is a member of the East Texas Quilter’s Guild and was on the committee planning the quilt show! At the quilt show her term begins as President-elect so a year from now she’ll be the incoming Guild President. So if I am down here next year when Jo attends the show I can go golfing with Al.
Well that’s it for our report on the Azalea Quilt Show. Summary. The Azalea Quilt Show is a well organized good quality regional show and there are lots of other good reasons to travel some distance to attend the show.
On the way home from our spring trip down south to escape the tail end of Wisconsin winter, Ross and I stayed a few days in the Paducah area at our favorite RV campground – Canal Park in Grand Rivers, KY.
One day we drove over to the Paducah Convention Center, the site of the AQS Quilt Show and Convention to see what’s new. We’d heard that the failing Executive Inn hotel, which was attached to the convention center, was torn down. And the rumor turned out to be true. All that was left was a giant pile of broken concrete and rubble.
We could see that where the hotel was attached to the convention center a new addition is being constructed, but I doubt that it will be finished in time for the big Quilt Show the last part of April. So quilt show goers can expect to use the big “White Dome” exhibition hall for part of the show’s activities. Since the rubble from the torn down Executive Inn is actually covering more space than the former building, expect parking space to be even more stressed than usual.
While an overcast day, downtown Paducah was looking pretty good with apple and pear blossoms in full bloom.
The restaurant is part of larger complex of a little 19th century village with shops, gardens, a mill, a little church, and other attractions. Wait staff in the restaurant are costumed in historically accurate apparel and the interior is filled with antiques from the period, adding to the 19th century atmosphere. As with our previous visit we found the food and the service exceptional. I had their grilled salmon on a bed of rice with a side of steamed vegetables. Grilled salmon is one of my favorites so I have a good amount of experience with grilled salmon. Patti’s is one of the best I’ve ever had. Cooked and served at exactly the right temperature and very moist. Nice detail touches to the main meal were their homemade fresh bread cooked and served in a little earthenware flower pot and serving their ice water in a canning jar with a quarter lemon slice on the rim. It was a cold, rainy Wednesday evening in late March, well before the tourist season in little Grand Rivers, yet Patti’s was almost packed. Evidence of the value and quality of their service that they could draw so many people from many miles away.
On the way to Grand Rivers we stopped at the Murray State University golf course so Ross could play 18 holes. While the grass had yet to green out the fairways and greens were in good shape for golfing. The Miller-Murray University course is quite scenic and well-maintained and they do offer a senior rate so it is a good value for us. Ross will probably stop there again when I am back in Paducah in late April for the 2011 AQS Show.
I’ll report back later from the show. Maybe I’ll see you there!
In mid-August Jo and I decided to take a trip to the Dubuque Iowa area to see a few sights and visit a quilt shop in nearby Bellevue. I also had a few golf courses I wanted to play 🙂
We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon and decided to drive west of Dubuque, about 20 miles, to Dyersville, Iowa whose major attraction is the National Farm Toy Museum. And for baseball and movie fans Dyersville is home to the Field of Dreams movie set – which time didn’t permit us to visit. We also discovered that they have an annual fall quilt show – another reason to return.
The Farm Toy Museum is an interesting piece. The exhibits serve as an educational tour of the progression of two centuries of US agriculture and its implements. If you weren’t aware of this factoid, in the US the Industrial Revolution was most evident in its agricultural machinery and inventions. So anyone interested in US industrial history or the history of farming in the US will find the Toy Museum’s exhibits fascinating. A number of the exhibits were antique toys, the kind you’d see brought onto the PBS TV show Antiques Roadshow. So collectors or appreciators of antique toys will find lots to satisfy this interest. I discovered there is a lively group of hobbyists and collectors who specialize in farm toys. They even have a magazine called Toy Farmers. Of course farmers or former farmers will have lots of fun walking down memory lane looking at models of tractors and implements. While I was there a group of three retired farmers where wandering through the exhibits seeing models of tractors and implements from their earlier days. Every once in a while one would say “Hey do you remember . . . ”
On the way back to Dubuque we stopped in Balltown Iowa to dine at Breitbach’s Country Tavern. We hadn’t been there since the second of two devastating fires destroyed this Iowa landmark. We missed the original because it had been there for ages and was filled with a gazzilion antiques (see here for a few shots of the “old” Breitbach’s). While the building is new looking local craftsmen have done a decent job in finishing off the interior with fine dark hardwoods giving it the atmosphere of an old time German or Swiss pub. Although the fire destroyed almost all of the Breitbach family’s several generations of antique collections, they have a few newly acquired antiques to lend character to the atmosphere. But the most pleasant experience of all has not changed. Breitbach’s food and service is terrific. We stuffed ourselves with the all-you-can-eat buffet. The service kept our tables clean and water glasses refreshed. The Breitbach family has been at this spot offering hospitality since 1852 and they have done a great job of it.
The next day, Wednesday, I had a chance to play the Blue Course at Lacoma Golf Club, which is across the river from Dubuque in East Dubuque, IL. It is a mature, scenic tree lined course with some degree of elevation change. The rough under the trees was mowed so balls hit outside of the fairway were fairly easy to find. Only a few holes had woods so thick and tight to fairway that an errant ball was “goodbye.” The greens were in good condition and easy to read. Overall the course was quite playable and a decent value for your golfing dollar. Reminded me of the Portage Lake Golf Course in Houghton, Michigan.
After golfing we traveled south of Dubuque, about 20 miles, along the Iowa side of the Great River Road to the town of Bellevue along the Mississippi River. There is a quilt shop there Jo wanted to visit and we wanted to see the town as we had previously always traveled the Illinois side of the Great River Road along this stretch. Unfortunately the shop, JoQuilter Fabrics, was closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays so all we could do was look in the window. Jo says she is planning a Great River Road Quilt Shop tour to this part of the Great River next summer so she’ll make sure to be in Bellevue when the shop is open. The town itself is aligned along the river with an attractive river walk on the river side of the street and small gift shops, antique stores, craft shops, and restaurants on the other side of the street. A person could spend an hour or two wandering through the shops. There is also a lock and dam adjacent to downtown so one can get a good look at the river boat traffic as it comes through the locks. Another disappointment in our visit to Bellevue was the fact that the paved road to nearby Bellevue State Park was closed and we weren’t up for traveling a few miles down the alternate gravel road entrance.
On Thursday I got in another golfing fix this time golfing The Meadows a course in the Dubuque western suburb of Asbury. Not very many trees in this course since not too many years ago it was a field of corn and grains. But the rolling hills and course landscaping presented an attractive picture. Every hole on the course had a unique visual character to it. The fairways were close cut bent grass giving you the feeling of playing on a carpet. Every time I took a divot I felt I was committing a misdemeanor. While the fairways always had elevation changes, a few water and sand trap hazards, and many with doglegs left or right or left and right, the challenge at The Meadows is the greens. All of them are elevated so a ball rolling off the edge of the frog hair would end up rolling several feet downhill into the longer grass. The greens themselves were often domed and had undulations with pin placements to challenge your ability to read the terrain. Combined with fast greens the challenge to your putting skills was enthusiastic! Result. I had many more 3 putts than I can recall having in recent outings. Despite the 3 putts and fairly good shots rolling off the green into the steep long grass I enjoyed the outing. A very good quality course with a reasonable green and cart fee structure. Thus an excellent golfing value. Oh and the club house was decent – had one of our favorite beers – Michelob Amber Bock – on tap.
After golfing we visited the Stone Cliff Winery’s Wine Bar and Pub located in the old Star Brewery building along the Dubuque Mississippi River Walk. Jo and I did their 5 wine sampler and our unanimous favorite was their Red Dawg variety. We bought a bottle to take home. In the same building down the hall is the winery’s production facility where they bottle the wine. Tours are available. I should also mention that the Wine Bar also has a number of excellent craft beers on tap. On the way home we stopped in Platteville, Wisconsin to sample the pizza at Steve’s Pizzeria a popular bar and pizza joint near the University of Wisconsin-Platteville campus. Nice atmosphere and a decent sampling of beers on tap. The pizza was OK but I think our pizza taste buds have been spoiled by the pizza places in Superior, Wisconsin – Shamrock, Thirsty Pagan, and Gronks.
Our plans were to check out a few golf courses in the Dubuque area, visit JoQuilter’s Fabric Shop in Bellevue, Iowa, and enjoy the fourth of July fireworks along the river at Dubuque’s Lock & Dam. We arrived early on Thursday morning at the Grant River Recreation Area by Potosi figuring we’d be able to get one of the 26 non-reserveable campsites. That’s when our plans first started going south! All 26 non-reserveable campsites were occupied and all of the rest of the sites reserved for the upcoming holiday weekend. So plan B was to boondock somewhere or perhaps camp at the Mississippi Palisades park near Savannah. Having postponed lodging decisions we proceeded to our next item on our itinerary – golfing.
We found the Bunker Hill Golf Course off Grandview Avenue up on the hill. It is a municipal golf course with good maintenance and quite reasonable prices, including a senior rate. It cost me $27.25 to play 18 holes with a cart (weekday rate). It’s a scenic course, largely open except for a few more heavily wooded holes, and quite playable. Low handicap golfers will find the course too short and thus not challenging enough, but I enjoyed the opportunity to reach the greens in regulation more often!
After golfing we had an opportunity to sample the Dubuque Star Restaurant and its outdoor cafe on the second floor of the restored Star Brewery building along Dubuque’s riverfront. It was a beautiful early evening and the view from the cafe idyllic. A bonus was the food was quite tasty and the wait service excellent. Jo overheard another couple commenting that this was the fifth time they’ve eaten at the Star and that every time they come to Dubuque they always include a visit to the restaurant.
The next day, Friday July 2nd, we traveled across the river to East Dubuque to play the Lacoma Golf Course. A huge golfing facility. One 18 hole course, two 9 holes courses, and a 9 hole Par 3 course. We played the 9 hole Red Course and the 9 hole Gold Course. The Red was Lacoma’s first course. It is similar to Bunker Hill’s layout. Open fairways, semi-wooded, and shorter than average length even from the back tees. However the greens were a little trickier; I had a few three putts. The Gold Course was a quite different experience. It was longer by 250 yards, but the more significant differences are narrower fairways, more heavily wooded, and dramatic terrain changes. Several scenic vistas. Some of the holes reminded me of Marquette’s Greywalls Course – teeing off a hundred feet above the fairway with woods below and on both sides, then once in the fairway the green is a hundred feet above you. No flat greens either and the pin placement wasn’t kind to a putt that went wide. But for all the challenges I’d say the Gold Course was fair and playable (if you don’t mind losing a few golf balls :-)). The only downside of my Lacoma experience was I strained or pulled something in my pelvis. I popped 4 Ibuprofen’s and another pain pill I had with me so I was able to finish the round. Later it was evident the pain and discomfort were getting worse and we decided better pack up and head for home.
So we missed the fireworks and the air show on Saturday and were unable to take that side trip to Bellevue. I hope to return to Lacoma to play their other courses and work in that visit to Bellevue and its quilt shop.
Whenever Jo goes to the Paducah AQS Quilt Show, we like to arrive a few days earlier to have some extra time to enjoy the area and get a better choice of an RV campsite. Touring the Dogwood Trail and golfing are among these pre-show pursuits.
Last year (2009) there wasn’t an official Dogwood Trail Celebration because a winter ice storm had damaged so many trees. We followed the route outlined for the 2008 trail and although storm damage was evident, we still found a number of attractive displays of dogwoods and azaleas. In 2010 we followed the trail markers and did our own tour in our RV motor home. The photo shows the trees in the lawn of one of Paducah’s oldest historical landmarks: Grace Episcopal Church (1874) on Broadway Avenue. Most trees were in full bloom, but here and there some trees still show evidence of having lost their tops or major branches. On Saturday evening we attended the official festival celebration Saturday night which included a narrated evening tour of the trail.
When Jo goes to the Quilt Show, golf usually occupies my time and is a favorite of other spouses of quilters who accompany their wives to the annual event. The Paxton Park course in Paducah is a popular course and the green fees are reasonable. Another popular area golf course is the Kentucky Dam Resort course near Grand Rivers, KY. On the way to our campsite to attend the 2010 show I discovered a new course: the Murray State University Golf Course (Miller Memorial) near Murray, Kentucky. About 40 miles from Paducah, I think the extra travel is well worth the effort. The course is 18 holes with excellent maintenance, nicely detailed signage at each hole, and easy-to-read greens and fair hole locations. These factors help golfers new to the course enjoy the play. On Tuesday I hope to play the Drake Creek Golf Club in Ledbetter, KY (about 10 miles from downtown Paducah). They have a senior special on Tuesdays – $20 for green fees and cart. I’ll report on that later.
Despite a warm spring, the fairway grass on several of the courses I’ve played this spring (in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kentucky) has been somewhat marginal. Apparently the variety of turf grass they use tolerates heat well but doesn’t green up nicely until May. One of my favorite Lake Superior golf courses – Nemadji Golf Course in Superior Wisconsin – opened this spring on March 30th, 10 days earlier than they had ever opened in the last 50 years. I wonder if their fairways are in as good a shape as what I am finding in the mid-south?