I have a daydream that one day I will encounter my ideal quilt event. It will provide everything on my list of desires and cater perfectly to them. This is my fantasy, so I get to choose what's in it.
Since I started visiting quilt shows, conventions and other events 25 years ago, I have been compiling a mental list of things I like and do not like about them. When I started out, I liked pretty much everything since I was new to the quilting world and fairly ignorant of what was out there. I was like a sponge, soaking up all information I could glean and buying whatever fabric and products I liked.
Soon, though, some events started to irritate me and others left me wanting more. I became selective and stopped going to many of them. After all these years, I can now pronounce exactly what I would like to see in my perfect show and what will make me excited.
Physical factors of the event’s location play a part. I want a place where there is free parking nearby or a train station right outside the venue. I don't want to have to pay ridiculously high prices for parking (Darling Harbour, I'm looking at you). Actually, a free pick-up from my home and return at the end of the day would be ideal, thanks. Casinos do it, so why can't other venues?
The entrance price to the show should reflect the value of its content. To pay over $15 just to have the opportunity to shop from a limited range of vendors - forget it. I'd rather shop online.
The venue must be air-conditioned and have excellent lighting. Nothing is displayed at its best in dark spots and shadows. The floor should not be hard and unyielding, but comfortable underfoot. There should be decent food available on site at reasonable prices and every visitor should always be able to find a seat when they need one.
The event should be free of small children. (Remember, this is my fantasy. If you have small children, feel free to disagree, but you'd probably enjoy a show more without your kids. They only see people's legs - where's the fun in that for them?)
There should be an extensive program that is on an easily accessible web page months before the event and a printed version I can collect at the show. It's not good enough to say they've all been taken in the first hour of the day.
There has to be stimulating content and activities to attract me to the event, not just a hall full of people selling stuff. Once I am there, I want well-displayed quilts and textiles that take my breath away; vendor’s stands full of interesting and tempting purchases and plenty of product demonstrations.
I don’t want multi-day workshops. I want hands-on workshops that last half a day at the most, so I can arrange my days to allow me to dip into different techniques and learn from a variety of teachers. The workshops will be at reasonable prices and include all the requirements so I don't have to lug around more stuff.
I want to listen to quilters and textile artists talk about and show examples of their work. Hour-long lectures are exciting – it’s long enough to get inspired. I want also to be able to talk to practising quilt and textile artists as I watch what they do and how they go about creating their work in studio situations. (I still haven't recovered from my visit to the Festival of Quilts in England three years ago. It was simply paradise.)
Obviously this is my very personal list of desires. Yours will be different, and I’d love to hear what would be on it, so please leave a comment about your fantasy show. I bet all of us have two requirements in common, though – feet that never get sore as well as plenty of spending money!