PADUCAH, Ky. -
Nothing, not even Christmas, affects the local economy like The American Quilter's Society Quilt Show. It is the premiere tourism event in western Kentucky, and a new report shows how much this year's event impacted our area across state lines.
"The numbers are just, to me, amazing," said Meredith Schroeder. She is the co-founder and president of American Quilter's Society and has hosted the quilt show in Paducah for 30 years. This past April, the attendance was a record. This year's quilt show brought in about 32,000 tourists, which more than doubled the population in Paducah.
"This just keeps climbing. This is mind boggling," said State Representative Gerald Watkins. He announced the $25,462,149 value attached to the show for the regional economy. That's money shared between Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Tennessee. An AQS survey shows 16 percent of this year's quilters found accommodations more than 40 miles away from Paducah.
"If I had my way, they would have it twice a year," said Shane Mastera with Shane Lee Boutique in Paducah. He said the money he made in April by tailoring his store to quilters can easily compete with the holiday shopping season. "The month the quilt show is here is just as good if not better than the Christmas season."
That's one reason why city leaders said they hope Paducah plays host to the quilt show for at least another 30 years. Watkins said, "This is what makes Paducah and McCracken County a wonderful place to live."
The economic impact report from the Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet shows quilters spent an average of about $271 a day during QuiltWeek. Schroeder said they are still working out details for the space they need next year, because the pavilion will not be an option.