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Quilt show bringing in more eclectic mix

BY CORIANNE EGANcegan@paducahsun.com

About 30,000 people attend the American Quilter's Society's Quilt Week each year. Beautiful weather could lift that figure higher this year, although attendance numbers aren't finalized.

But who are the quilt enthusiasts who grace Paducah with their presence each spring? The answer may surprise you.

"We get a little bit of everything here," said Bonnie Browning, the show's executive director. "There are men, women, all ages, all nationalities. There's a little bit of everything."

Just one look at the visitors to the city during Quilt Week shows just how eclectic the crowd is. This year alone, the show featured entries from 41 states and 10 countries. And in recent years, a different demographic - a younger set of people, along with the usual crowd â “ has started making its way to the convention center.

"We've been reaching younger people, and we added modern quilting awards because newer quilters like to see that," Browning said. "The popularity of art quilts have also changed things."

Every person at Quilt Week has a different story. There are the retirees who visit yearly with four of their closest friends and move from fabric sale to fabric sale, but there are so many others.

James and Sally Mueller, who hail from Michigan, are enjoying retirement by traveling in their RV. They hit Paducah just in time for Quilt Week.

"We go to museums all over the country, and we travel so much," James Mueller said, while snapping pictures of his favorite quilts at the Convention Center on Friday afternoon. "These quilts are simply stunning. They're extraordinary. It's fun to look at them."

Kylie Clark, 19, of Clarksville, Tenn., attended with her mother on Friday. The two drove up for just the day, but Clark said the show's cutting-edge vendors caught her eye. Kimberly Hall, 32, of Salem, Mo., said she quilts as a hobby. Even though she's decades younger than the average visitor to Quilt Week, she still finds inspiration in the exhibits.

"I look, and I think I can do a lot of the stuff I see," Hall said. "The quilts are so beautiful. Anyone who appreciates art can appreciate the quilt show."

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

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