OMG! The International Quilt Festival in Chicago was fantastic. My DH and I went for 3 days to Chicago and I will give the perfect 3 day trip for us and maybe for you too. Here's an account of our trip and my personal opinions about all our activities while there. I hope this helps any of you who plan to go anytime in the future. It will also serve as a reference for us for next year.
Thursday we left Crestwood, Ky, USA, and drove for 5 hours straight up I-65 north and landed at the hotel, Embassy Suites, right across the street from the Rosemont convention center. The drive was very nice, the only thing, have toll money ready when you arrive in Chicago. You'll need about $5.00 worth of change, if you want to really fly through the toll booths. One toll is 15 cents and they go up to $2.50. I don't know what you get for that money, because the roads were awful on the toll highways. Bring a cooler with some water, cookies, grapes and cheese and you don't need to stop for lunch.
You will want to save your calories for the Pappadeaux restaurant that evening. . Great seafood awaits about 15 minutes from the hotel. On Thursdays, bring your appetite, because it's all you can eat lobster. Get there early or be prepared to wait a while, but, we feel it's worth it. Anyway, to get to the restaurant, you leave the hotel parking lot and turn left and stay on River Road until you see Algonquin, the road becomes a 2 lane road before you will turn left on Algonquin. Follow this until you see a bright blue roof on your right-you are almost to Golf Road. The Meijer is directly across the street from Pappadeaux. The restaurant is not cheap, our bill for the two of us was $80.00, but, if you like great seafood and deserts, this is a place to try. I like the sweet potato/pecan pie, warmed up with a scoop of ice cream. My husband's favorite dish is the Ponchatrain, I like the Orleans trout verses salmon...your choice...
Go home to the hotel and get a good night's sleep for the show tomorrow, or you can walk on over and maybe buy your ticket and go on in and see some of the show before it officially opens on Friday. My friend did this and enjoyed it. I personally like waiting and experiencing it all day on Friday.
Embassy Suites was not prepared for the the flock of quilters this year. I don't remember so many being there last year. All I know is the breakfast lines were the longest I've seen. The worst was the elevators-2 were down on Thursday. Walking up 6 flights of stairs is not fun. You might want to try the Sofitel hotel next door, both are very close. The Double Tree is a short walk down the street.
Friday-THE SHOW!! Hours: 10:00 to 7:00. Cost $10.00 for a one day ticket.
My favorite thing about this show is that all the quilts are together and all the vendors are together, separate, almost right down the middle of the building. You don't have to walk for blocks to view quilts! I understand that venues sometimes grow and are forced to expand, but, the real beauty of this show is the whole show is in one building, classes, quilts and vendors. If you can purchase your ticket on the internet, instead of waiting in the long line for tickets, I'd suggest doing that, so you can walk right in.
Anyway, the mass of quilters hits right at the opening at 10:00. You will be trying to view quilts through many layers of people if you go to the quilts first. I'm planning on walking directly to the vendors side of the building, to the right and start my show there next year, because everyone wants to see the quilts at the start. So maybe I'll miss the crush if I go the opposite end...probably not...lots of retail therapy going on there and there'll be just as many going the other direction with me...smile...
I took lots of pictures of the quilts, but large portions of this show were clearly marked-no pictures please and I respect that and did not take those pictures. The whole Huskvarna quilt show was off limits for pictures. As a person that has entered quilts in a show, I also appreciate the policing of the quilts.
Here's a picture of the president of the event, Karry Bresenhan reminding people not to touch the quilts, I'm glad she did that. If everyone was allowed to touch the quilts they'd be ruined.
It's my opinion that the quilting done on a quilt is winning the shows. I think the ladies that buy those expensive quilt machines and quilt them, or pay someone to quilt them are being rewarded with prizes. I don't begrudge them. Sooner or later the level of quilting will reach a point such that all attention will go back to the design and then we will see some really fantastic quilts, not that we don't already. Painting and quilting-Oh My! In this day of the big quilt shows, it's not enough just to stitch some fabric together. What time these people have to work on their projects I can only drool over. Lucky them!
Anyway, look around for 2 or 3 hours and go out to lunch at Gino's East Pizza, practically across the street from Pappadeaux. All you need to do is continue on to the light past the blue roof of Pappadeaux and turn left on Golf. Some of the best deep dish pizza in Chicago waits on your left about a half block down-in front of the Meijer.
After you fill up on incredible pizza, go back to the show for a couple more hours. Take a break in your room, then go back and finish up the show. You really can see a lot in one day. You will be amazed at the lack of people looking at the quilts after 5:00. I suppose the buses are leaving for dinner and their return trips home. Or, most people are making their final purchases.
There's no lack of quilting inspiration and stimulation at this show. I got my picture taken with one of the reigning superstars of the quilt world, Alex Anderson. We both like the same clothes! I miss her on TV, but will look forward to seeing her and Ricki Timms at work together on the internet at the Quilt Show.