Former Sun staffer reflects on QuiltWeek


Pat Brockenborough was the original voice of The Paducah Sun when it came to quilts.

The reporter was well into her four-decade journalism career by the time she got asked to cover the first American Quilter's Society QuiltWeek -- then known as the National Quilt Show -- held in Paducah during April 1985.

"I had to interview all of these quilters on the phone and do the writing, as well as cover the show and interview the winners," Brockenborough told the Sun recently. "That was my beat and I just remember people coming from everywhere and filling up the town. There weren't enough hotel rooms in all of Paducah."

Though the art held no inherent interest for the reporter, she grew to appreciate it.

"There was sort of a tabloid section we published and I did all the stories for that. Those were wonderful years," Brockenborough recalled. "I wasn't really into quilting and I'm still not a really big collector but, once you get into it, it's fascinating."

That first quilt show, and indeed all of the others, was put in motion by the American Quilter's Society, a group founded by Paducahans Bill and Meredith Schroeder that year to help legitimize the art of quilt making.

"I've always appreciated what the Schroeders were doing for Paducah by putting us on the map -- the world map," Brockenborough said. "Everywhere you go quilters know about Paducah thanks to this one family. I don't think locals really appreciate it. It's just meant so much and I hope it continues. I'm just really happy that it's here."

The way that the convention has grown and changed over the years has always impressed Brockenborough.

"The way it got started was the Schroeders saw a quilt show in Tennessee and got inspired to hold one in Paducah and it just evolved from that and just grew bigger and bigger every year."

The Schroeders, Brockenborough remembers, at one point received an offer to move the show to Nashville, but instead kept it in west Kentucky.

"It would have taken a big burden off of them. It always was a lot of work, but thank goodness they refused that opportunity," she said. "They're so loyal to Paducah and I'm not sure how many people realize what they've done for the city through quilting.

"It's had a fantastic economic impact, the show has, on our community over the years," the retired reporter said with a smile. "If you say I'm from Paducah, people will always say 'Oh, home of the quilt show.'"

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