Wednesday, March 31, 2010

AQS 2010 Lancaster Show Review

Warning...this is going to be a long post... I like to think that the folks at AQS who organized this show will take some time to surf quilting blogs to read up on how visitors felt about their new show.

OK, here we go....

Since the AQS policy states that I am not permitted to post any quilt photos from the AQS Lancaster show anywhere on the internet without the permission of the quiltmaker, I'm afraid the only photo I have to show today is a shot I took of the carpet in one of the exhibit halls. I know that it was probably designed by someone somewhere, but I didn't see a copyright symbol on it and there was no sign in the exhibit hall stating that posting an online photo of the carpeting was prohibited, so it's fair game in my book!

Now, on to the review... I'm afraid I'll compare it to the old QHC show at times, but that can't be helped.

The Good
-- (in no particular order)

1) I'm thankful there was a large national show in Lancaster this year. My guild made many trips down there over the last few years for the old Quilters' Heritage Celebration show, so we were happy campers when we found out that there would be another show in its place. Thank you, AQS, for stepping in and giving it a try.

2) Beautiful quilts to see. AQS has posted photos of the winning quilts on their website, but they really need to be seen in person. I'm afraid you won't see pictures on their website of the many other quilts that were hanging in the show.

3) Plenty of vendors, including some that were new to me.

4) Nice new venue, even if it did have issues.

5) Lots of seating around the perimeter of the exhibit halls and throughout the facility. I did hear some people complain that it was tough to find a place to sit near the food area, but if you were willing to look around a bit more, there were plenty of places to sit.

6) Lots of restrooms.

The Bad
-- (in no particular order)

1) Fewer quilts on exhibit than at the old QHC show. It seemed to me that the QHC shows had a good mix of both modern art quilts and the more traditional-style quilts. Even quilts that could be made by little old me. As a matter of fact, I even had one in the 2008 QHC show. This year's show had a lot fewer traditional-style and fewer quilts that a "regular" quilter could make.

2) The quilts were roped off so that you couldn't get close enough to take a good look at the construction and quilting. At the old QHC show, a lot of the quilts could be studied closely, even with roping in front of them. As a matter of fact, at this year's AQS show it was hard to tell which ones were hand or machine quilted, which ones were needle-turn or raw-edge applique, etc. None of that info was on the label. I couldn't even see the labels for some of the quilts. Yes, some of the info could be found in the show book, but I personally find that to be too time-consuming when I only have a few short hours to spend at the show.

3) I don't think they should charge for the show book -- include it in the price if you have to, but charging extra is tacky. It doesn't have to be glossy...regular paper is fine with me.

4) The quilts and vendors were mixed in too much. The layout left a lot to be desired. And it was way too crowded, both in front of the quilts and at the vendors' booths. I felt sorry for those who tried to maneuver their way around in wheelchairs. The old QHC show would get crowded at times, but there seemed to be more space than at this year's AQS show. I also had difficulty figuring out if I had seen everything...the layout didn't seem to make sense.

5) What's the point of getting our admission tickets sent to our group ahead of time if we still had to stand in line at the admission windows (along with those people who had not already purchased tickets) to have our hands stamped?

6) Running out of show pins by mid-afternoon on Friday? And I heard that they were also almost out of show books at that time. There was still Saturday to go! Boy, did they underestimate the number of people attending, or what?

7) Although photographs could be taken for personal (non-internet) use of most of the quilts, there was a small section where no photography was allowed at all. I have no problem with this, however, it was just a row of quilts in the center of the exhibit hall, so many attendees didn't know about the prohibition until a show staffer ran up to them threatening to have them spend the night in the Lancaster jail (well, I guess that's a bit of an exaggeration). If you're going to have part of the exhibit be a no-photography zone, put it in another room, not with the ones where photography is allowed.

8) Vendors at the second venue (Liberty Place) were probably not very happy with the light traffic over there. It was great for customers who didn't have to deal with crowds, but I'll bet the vendors' pockets were not very full by the time the show was over.

9) I would have liked to have visited the vendors at the Quilt Blossom Festival which was again held this year at the Continental Inn across from the old QHC venue. Although there was a free shuttle going there, I didn't want to risk taking too much of my valuable time waiting for and spending time on a shuttle to travel that far (I think it was at least 5 miles, which in Lancaster during quilt show time is a long distance).

10) I miss some of the vendors that used to be at the QHC show...

The Ugly --

1) Lighting of the quilts in the exhibits was HORRIBLE! The lighting in my little old guild's small exhibit is head and shoulders above the lighting at this year's AQS show.

2) I heard horror stories about waiting for the shuttle service. Personally, I was fortunate. I did not have to wait for the shuttle to head over to Liberty Place (the other venue about a mile away) and it was not full. My wait for the shuttle going back to the Convention Center was only the 15 minutes that had been promised. But I put this in the Ugly category because it sounded like my experience was the exception.

3) Too crowded.

Anyway, that's my two cents' worth. If I think of anything else, I'll blog about it later.

If I had to give a grade to the show, I'd give it a B, only because I realize that it was the first time for them and I would hope that they would improve on things that didn't work right this year. If things don't change, then the grade will definitely go down.


Jackie said...

Boy, you are spot on with your review!! By the time, we got there on Sat all programs were gone and show pins. I really would have liked to have a program while viewing the quilts. The lighting was poor. I did go to the Blossom Festival and it was nice as usual, a few less vendors because AQS gave many vendors an ultimatum, either the AQS show or none at all. Too bad. But all in all a good time.

Yvonne said...

Well, let's hope they will learn from this first year and make some changes for 2011. I hope that besides everything you did have a good time and scored some nice fabric or didn't you?

karenfae said...

It sounds like maybe the AQS will need to remember some of the things they did wrong and improve next years show. I am wondering very much how the Paducah show will be in 3 weeks as they had to have a new set up for parts of the show also and instead of it all being in one building it will be in 3. The vendors are all supposed to be set up in a very large portable tent like structure. It will be interesting!
I will have to tell hubby about the photography - he loves to have the camera out.
I am surprised though that we can't post any photos - I wonder if it is ok to do a photo from a distance shot of an overall area and not zooming in on one quilt in particular?


Needled Mom said...

I found many of the same issues at the last quilt show I went to as well - especially the crowds.

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The Calico Cat said...

I did not even know that there was vending/exhibition over at Liberty Place - or at the place across from the Host...