I had so much fun at this quilt show. I’m definitely planning to return!
The camaraderie among attendees at this show mirrored what I encountered at my pre-COVID Idaho quilt retreat. It was AWESOME. Both times, I went not knowing a soul and left feeling like I’d really connected with other folks. THIS is what has been sorely missing since COVID started. While I’m thankful for all of the online content provided by various quilters, no amount of virtual quilt events and Zoom guild meetings will ever replace the in-person contact we all crave with our quilty peeps.
My journey to Pigeon Forge and back to the ATL:
I took backroads from Atlanta up to Pigeon Forge. Followed the Appalachian Quilt Trail for part of the way, looking for quilt blocks on barns and buildings in towns as I passed through. I was not disappointed. One of my side trips to view blocks led to an hour long visit at a textile museum. The rest of the drive up through Lenoir City, Maryville and the way to Cade’s Cove was particularly nice. I stopped at Apple Valley for a delicious late lunch A later stop led to my find of the trip – a Singer Penguin walking foot in excellent shape at a great price. I confirmed the price with the old gentleman, purchased that sucker and quickly left. I am still grinning about my find. You just don’t see them in this area.
I stayed at the new Holiday Inn & Suites on the Parkway. It’s in a great location. I could see the LeConte Center from my hotel room. My room was huge, clean and quiet, but not particularly well lit in the evenings. I like to sew in my room at night, and plan to stay here again, so I will definitely bring one of my task lamps next time. Once they open the footbridge to the LeConte Center, it’ll be a 5 minute minute walk to the quilt show – no need to even move the car.
My return journey started off going the backroads, but Google maps was hell bent on me taking I-75 instead. I finally acquiesced and treated myself to a stop at Buc-cees in Calhoun, GA. A few miles down the road, traffic on I-75 was so stacked up that I exited the highway and drove the remanning 37 miles the back way. I probably made it home faster, too!
Quilt show recap:
The LeConte Center staff, Pigeon Forge employees, local quilt guilds and all the folks who collaborated to put on the show did a first class job.
Admission to the quilt show, mega vendor shopportunity and parking is totally free. Based on what I saw and heard, the vendor mall is a HUGE draw for quilters in the region. And the shopping was quite good, too! I didn’t think there were that many quilts to see; however, my frame of reference is my local show with 300+ quilts on display. This could easily be a fun day trip for quilters within a 1.5 – 2 hour drive of Pigeon Forge.
Classes and specialty events have fees. ($35-$75, depending on class/event – kit fees are extra)
Classes are taught by well-known faculty. If there’s a class you want to take, you’d better register as soon as the official sign up opens or you may be out of luck. Be aware that the kit fee probably rivals the class fee.
Workspace in the classrooms is generous and the rooms are well lit. You have plenty of room to spread out at your station. Definitely bring your 18″x24″ rotary mat and large wool pressing mat, if you like. I brought my 12″X18″ rotary mat and 9″ square wool press mat. I made it work, but made a note to bring the bigger ones next time. A power strip will also be useful. Task lighting is optional.
Concessions are available, but they are pricey and offer limited choices. Pepsi is the official beverage vendor, if this matters to you. At the very least, bring your own refillable water bottle and packaged snacks. Consider packing a lunch if attending all day classes.
If you’re a pin collector for each quilting event you attend, be sure to buy the pin sooner, rather than later.
Mountain QuiltFest is definitely on my list of annual quilting events. Many attendees in my class drove at least as far as I did to attend multiple days of classes due to the quality of the faculty and classes offered. I now see why. I’ve already planned to add an extra day onto any future trips to Mountain QuiltFest so I can take full advantage of the classes and events.
Other recommended “big” quilty events from quilters I met: Shipeshewana, AQS Branson, and QuiltFest Jacksonville (the September one sponsored by six local quilt guilds).
Until next time…stay quilting my friends!