On Oct. 30, my two friends (let’s call them Joyce and Jinny) packed up Joyce’s minivan and pointed it toward Houston. We have been attending the biggest quilt show in the world for many years. In fact, since I arrived in Texas in 1985, I have missed only two Houston International Quilt Festivals. We planned our trip so we arrived at George Brown Convention Center shortly before the “sneak peek” opening for registered show goers only. The whole bottom floor contained all the quilts on exhibit and all the vendors were reserved for those select people from 5 to 7 p.m.

When we entered the exhibit hall the three of us decided how long we wanted to stay at the festival, and where we would meet. After that detail was taken care of, we scattered. My two friends headed over to where the quilts were hung. They were anxious to see the grand prize winning quilts. Those quilts were truly amazing works of art and can take your breath away. I looked in my festival booklet and found where the select vendors I wanted to visit were before the rest of the crowd came in.

Keep in mind that vendors frequently run out of popular products, so it’s important to purchase things you’ve been counting on getting at the festival as soon as you arrive. One thing I’ve learned over the many years of going to the festival is if you find something you like, buy it on the spot. Finding that vendor again might be difficult unless you write down their booth number.

At the appointed meeting time and place the three of us gathered and then decided if we wanted to stay later or leave for one of our favorite restaurants. After we finished our meal, it was on to our hotel to check in. Once we settled into our room, we were exhausted but looking forward to the next several days.

I usually go through the whole vendor area (all 20 rows of them) before I venture into the quilt exhibits.

There are so many different exhibits that you can get lost. This festival is a collection of the most incredible quilts you’ll ever see. I have to toot my own horn here and admit I was very proud to have one of my hand-quilted quilts entered in this show some years back. I didn’t win any ribbons, but just being selected to be there was good enough for me.

The festival offers hundreds of classes, as well as lectures and luncheons every day. You can register on line starting in July at www.Quilts.com. If you registered the previous year you will get a festival catalog in the mail that you can pour through, circling classes that look interesting. If you plan to take a class, it’s best if you get your registration in as soon as possible or you won’t get in. (Ask Joyce about that. She only got one class out of five.) This year I did attend three luncheons and five lectures.

We returned home totally exhausted, with our shopping bags filled with beautiful fabric, books, patterns and the newest gadgets guaranteed to make our quilt making easier and more enjoyable. Our cameras were filled with wonderful quilt pictures and our heads were spinning with so many ideas of items we wanted to make.

Nancy C. Judd of Harker Heights is a member of the Crossroads to Texas Quilt Guild.

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