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American Quilter’s Society holds 38th annual Paducah QuiltWeek

Groups of older women observe the many intricate quilts displayed on the showroom floor in the Schroeder Expo Center.
Francis Grefer

The American Quilter’s Society is celebrating the 38th annual QuiltWeek this week in Paducah.

Over 20,000 tourists from across the United States and the world are expected to visit the McCracken County seat, nicknamed Quilt City USA, for the festivities.

Around 400 quilts are on display at this year’s event – just a fraction of the submissions that AQS received. Included in the vast array are the winners of this year’s AQS Paducah Quilt Contest, with one winner from each of the four main categories hung in an elaborate display in the center of the showroom floor in the Schroeder Expo Center. California quilter Molly Hamilton-McNally, the creator of the Overall Best of Show quilt titled “Serenity,” took home the grand prize of $20,000.

AQS Executive Show Director Bonnie Browning says QuiltWeek participants are encouraged to soak up the excitement in any way they can.

“When the quilters come, they really come to eat, sleep, and drink quilts,” Browning said. “So they’re going to do everything they can that’s quilt related.”

In addition to perusing the countless quilt displays, QuiltWeek attendees can also take part in lectures and pick up new skills from masterclasses taught by AQS instructors. Vendors can also be found scattered throughout the convention grounds, offering everything from project templates to sewing machines.

The annual fiber arts convention also features exhibitions from quilters from around the world, including collaborative pieces.

One exhibit features the work of Ukrainian quilting mother-son duo Natalia and Illia Lashko, who utilize straw embroidery in much of their artwork.

Quilter Rhonda Denney, who is also a friend of the Lashkos, attended this year’s QuiltWeek. She said their efforts to preserve the folk art form are a monument to the resilience of the Ukrainian people, especially during their ongoing battle against Russian occupation.

“Over the hundreds of years, they have faced a lot of adversity and they’ve always come up on the surface,” Denney said. “So, straw weaving is actually alive and well in small groups – and that’s what’s wonderful. They’re keeping that alive as well.”

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of AQS’s founding by Francis and Bill Schroeder. Browning said the Schroeders created the Paducah-based organization to “recognize today’s quiltmaker,” and reward people for their artistry.

QuiltWeek festivities in Paducah will run through Saturday afternoon.

Francis is a junior at Murray State University majoring sociology. They enjoy writing, music and video games.
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