Well, I've been home since Sunday and have had even more time to reflect on Houston. It's interesting how a show can do this to you. By the end of the ACCQF I am so exhausted, I can't think straight.
I live 30 minutes away from Ailsa Craig, so I clock up around 1,000 k on my car that week, running backwards and forwards every day, taking teachers to the show, running errands if they need things, collecting lunches, bringing everything back, blah, blah,blah, the list goes on. I'm not looking for sympathy, it's just something that I do for the love of the festival.
We have up to 60 volunteers a day at the show, a huge number for a small town and shows the commitment of everyone involved, and makes the Festival the success it is. I was struck by this thought when we were in Houston. Cathy and I had left our bags to be picked up later, they were getting heavy, and when we did, we were chatting to a lovely young man who had taken our tickets. I say young, he was probably early 30's, and as I'm only 23 (not), it seems young. He told us how he really loved the quilt festival and looked forward to it every year, he helped to hang the quilts as well as doing the bag thing, he just loved talking to us and looking at the quilts. On one of our many trips around the quilts, I was struck by several young men who were working as Quilt Angels and helping people to see the quilts, who, when they were on their own for a little, stopped, and REALLY looked at a quilt that had caught their eye. Not just a cursory glance, but really going in for the detail and soaking in the workmanship, I was very impressed by this.
Cathy and I came across a group of children in the SAQA exhibit, who were filling out a questionnaire on the quilts, why did they like it? what drew their attention? why? etc., again, I was enthralled by the fact that the children had valid reasons and comments to make. We asked them questions, and again, a Quilt Angel, male, came up to them and asked questions and drew their attention to a detail they may not have seen. The kids were about 11 or 12.
Every year we invite schools to come and see our Festival, and every year we are disappointed that none turn up. Some children are brought by their mothers and I think, enjoy it, but would it really hurt for a school to arrange a quick trip, or car pooling to bring them to see something they may never get the opportunity to see again? We are thinking that we will prepare a similar questionnaire this year at Festival, last year we did cards which had views of the quilts in close up and as a whole and sent the kids off to find them, and then they came back to us to claim their Smarties, but we have no idea how many actually did look at them all.
That's my soapbox finished for tonight, but I just wanted to draw everyone's attention to the fact that it's not just women looking at and making quilts, there's a whole untapped market out there.................