American Quilter's Society

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American Quilter's Society
PO Box 3290
Paducah, KY 42002-3290

Toll-free (for orders only, please):
Phone: 270-898-7903
Fax: 270-898-1173

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5801 Kentucky Dam Road Paducah, KY 42003-9323

Quilting Community AQS News

Rockford quilters fill charter flights for quilt show

Paducah show drew 30,000 last year

by Joe Walker, The Paducah Sun

Scores of quilters from financially strapped Rockford, Ill., found a sweet charter flight deal to see the Paducah quilt show. From Thursday through Saturday, the group will fly to and from Barkley Regional Airport daily on a 100-seat USA Jet DC-9.

“People up here are hurting. Unemployment is up,” said organizer Judy Mullen of Rockford. ”Many of the quilters in this area are the breadwinners for their families and cannot give up three to four days of work to attend the quilt show.”

Friday and Saturday flights were full as of last week, and the Thursday flight –– just 36 seats short of capacity Monday afternoon –– was expected to fill. Quilters will arrive daily at 7 a.m. and depart at 8 p.m. for Chicago Rockford International Airport. One-way airfare for each trip is $59, allowing travelers to save on hotel costs.

Many of the travelers are members of the Sinnissippi Quilters Guild, while others are from across northern Illinois and Wisconsin, Mullen said. “What Oshkosh is to pilots, Paducah is to quilters.” She had flown to the Paducah show for several years with her pilot husband and enjoyed the convenience of seeing the show but returning home at night. Rockford International had started day trip charters in 2005 to Niagara Falls and other sites, so Mullen wondered why Paducah couldn’t be added to the list.

After last year’s quilt show, Mullen spoke with Barkley and Rockford International officials about organizing charter flights. She later set up a table at the Sinnissippi Quilt Show to ask the 1,800 attendees if they wanted information about a day trip to the Paducah show. Over two days, 220 signed up.

When tickets went on sale April 8, the plane quickly filled for the April 23 and 24 flights. “We’ve had bus groups and groups coming in 15-passenger vans,” said Jackie Jones, Barkley marketing director, “but never a charter plane that holds 100 quilters.”

The Paducah quilt show drew about 30,000 last year –– down from 2008 because of the recession –– and organizers anticipate significant improvement in 2010. Just assuming last year’s attendance, three full charter flights would account for 1 percent of the show draw, said Barkley Manager Richard Roof. “This is generating a lot of enthusiasm,” he said. “It’s our understanding some of the folks are already inquiring whether this will be done again next year.”

Roof said the airport will receive some landing fees and be able to report the influx of passengers, but the big boost is the spending power of 100 quilters daily in Paducah.

Contact Joe Walker, Business Editor, The Paducah Sun, at 270-575-8656 or send email to