When I moved to Kentucky, certain things were not on the brochure. The Wikipedia page didn’t tell me there would be apocalyptic weather. It also didn’t mention the sheer amount of blooming trees and the incredibly bad allergies that natives seem immune to. It didn’t tell me that this river has a mind of its own.
It did, however, say one thing: Paducah is Quilt City USA.
That doesn’t particularly knock a 23 year-old’s socks off. Quilting is tradition and focused energy. I am out of the box and frazzled. But through my four months of being here, I have heard one, ever popular mantra: wait until you see the quilt show.
I have to admit, the last few weeks have been interesting to watch. The whole town has been buzzing, preparing for the tourists that descend on the city. The signs went up across Broadway and I started to actually get excited.
Then, as (apparently) it tends to be in Kentucky, the unpredictable weather took a turn for the worst. I took shelter in my bathtub while tornado sirens went off. I watched, as all of you have, as it rained non-stop. I knew rain meant the river would rise. Did I know that we would be declaring a state of emergency? No. Did I know that all of the events I had been waiting to experience would be moved and scattered around town? No.
What did surprise me is the city’s adapt-or-die attitude. There are no cancellations here. We move. We reconfigure. The meeting places for 30,000 people were moved in a matter of hours, and no one has complained. Every major place in the town has pitched in to provide landing spaces for the major events.
Then you have the quilters. Tens of thousands of them come through the city each year, eager to see the best work and learn more about their craft. No reservations were canceled. No one said, “Hey, that city is on high alert and the county is covered in water, we aren’t going.” They are here, and they are ready for the festivities.
The Midwest is famous for its resilience. Tornadoes roll through and knock down houses that people, in turn, rebuild. The river rises and falls, people evacuate and come back. Through it all, there’s one very clear message: The quilt show must go on.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652.