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Rotary quilts tout history

BY CORIANNE EGAN cegan@paducahsun.com

Hundred-year-old quilts highlighting the history and milestones of the quilting world draw thousands to the Rotary Antique Quilt Show each year, all in an effort to help one of the community's most widely supported charities.

The Rotary Club of Paducah opened its show doors at the Robert Cherry Civic Center on Tuesday and will continue to run throughout the week to raise money for the Community Scholarship Program. Debbie DeWeese, executive secretary for Paducah's Rotary chapter, said that since Rotary began donating to the Community Scholarship Program, she believes the club has put in about $100,000.

"Most of these (quilt show visitors), this isn't their first trip," DeWeese said. "They have a tour they make around the community, and we are a stop on that tour. We had 500 people in less than two hours on opening day."

This is Rotary's biggest fundraiser of the year. Each of the club's 177 active members work shifts at the show, from taking admission to selling commemorative pins and cleaning up. Paducah's Rotaract group, which features young professionals, and Interact, a high school club tied to Rotary, also volunteer.

Every student in public or private high schools in Paducah and McCracken County qualifies for two years of paid tuition to the West Kentucky Community & Technical College through the Community Scholarship Program.

The modest requirements include maintaining a 2.5 GPA and achieving a minimum 95 percent cumulative attendance record. The scholarship is funded by a public-private partnership. Along with Rotary, WKCTC, the City of Paducah, McCracken County, CFSB Bank, Paducah Junior College Foundation, CSI, Paducah Power System, McCracken County Public Schools and Paducah Public Schools also donate to the fund.

This year, curator Sue Reich put together a 200-year retrospective that includes quilts from 1780 all the way through the year 2000. There are quilts from every quarter-century represented. Reich said there's a strong focus on World War I quilts, primarily because this year begins the 100-year anniversary of the war. Reich hosts tours daily of the exhibit.

"I think it's one thing to have the quilts hanging and have a sign," Reich said. "But you get a personal tour here with a ton of information and personal experience."

The Rotary Antique Quilt Show runs through Saturday. Doors are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $5.

Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.

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