1 Show, 3+ Spaces: How to manage your time and accomplish it all at AQS Paducah

April 19, 2024

It’s almost time for the 2024 American Quilter’s Society (AQS) QuiltWeek show in Paducah, Kentucky!

Each April, Paducah, Kentucky, is filled with quilters worldwide to celebrate the art of quilting. While most quilt shows are contained chiefly or entirely in a central venue, Paducah has quilt-related exhibits, shopping, and events around town. This makes for an immersive experience, but it also means that planning ahead can help you make the most of your QuiltWeek experience. 

The river view near the convention center in Paducah, Kentucky

This week, I am focusing on the big event- AQS QuiltWeek Paducah! 

As you plan your trip for 2024, check out last week’s post, where I share some excellent quilt-related highlights around town.

The AQS QuiltWeek Paducah Show

The American Quilter’s Society’s QuiltWeek is the main attraction for the week. AQS is based in Paducah, and this is the show that started it all. They also run QuiltWeek shows in several other cities across the country throughout the year.

You can find information about the 2024 AQS Paducah QuiltWeek on their website. I recommend downloading the show book ahead of time to help with planning. It includes maps of the venues and parts of the town, parking and shuttle information, as well as lists of vendors and participating quilts.

also download the showbook to my phone so I don’t have to carry the paper copy with me each day. The tags on the show quilts don’t give the technique information, so I like to be able to look that up as I move through the show.

The central portion of QuiltWeek is held in the Schroeder Expo Center, the Convention Center, and the Dome Pavilion. The show is divided into three primary locations. (Believe it or not, this is less than in many past years!)

The Schroeder Expo Center during QuiltWeek in Paducah, Kentucky

The Main Show Floor of AQS QuiltWeek- Large Quilts and Vendors

The main show floor includes all the quilts in categories 1-9. These are the large quilts in the show, which also include the specialty categories of Modern (category 9) and Group Quilts (category 5).

Many vendors, including those who sponsor the event, are also located on the main show floor. The contest quilts are centered on the floor, and vendors are in aisles along either side and along the back of the floor.

The main show floor is the most crowded in the morning, especially if you are there the first full day of the show. If you prefer a less crowded experience, start in one of the other spaces and then experience the main show floor after lunch.

Waiting to enter the main show floor of AQS Paducah QuiltWeek on the first day in 2023

In the center of the main show floor, you will find the gallery of major award winners, including Best of Show. These quilts are typically displayed so you can see their front and back. The makers of some of these quilts are frequently there talking about their award-winning quilts, so it is very crowded throughout the day. This is a great time to meet the makers and find out more about their process.

Major award winners are often found discussing their quilts in the winner’s gallery. (2023)

If you want to take a leisurely close-up look at these quilts, try seeing them towards the end of each show day. 

You can get an up-close look at the winning quilts towards the end of the day. (2023)

The first, second, and third-place winners are displayed together in each category.

In the shows I attended in 2015-2023 (minus the pandemic years), the quilts are displayed in groups of three, with two sides and one quilt flat to the back and a chain in front to prevent people from getting too close. This means that the quilts on the sides are challenging to photograph, and the quilts on the back are hard to see up close. If there is something I can’t see well, I will often take a photo of the back quilt and then zoom in on the picture to get a better look.

The quilt layout throughout the show in 2023

Also, know that this show does not have white-glove volunteers to help you see the backs of the quilts.

The Second Floor of AQS QuiltWeek- Wall Quilts, Special Exhibits, and Vendors

Quilt show categories 10-16 are in the second-floor room, along with three special exhibit quilts and many more vendors.

When you enter the space, the show quilts are to your left, and the vendors are to your right. The quilts displayed in the upstairs room are smaller, all less than 60″ wide. Specialty categories in this space include Pictorial Quilts (category 14) and Miniature Quilts (category 16).

Miniature Quilts at AQS Paducah in 2023

Special Exhibits in the Second Floor Space

  • Behind the Seams, TheQuiltShow.com:
  • Cherrywood Challenge: The Monarch- Chrysalis
  • Quilts from Ukraine: Natalia & Illia Lashko and the Ukrainian Quilters Association

Accessing the Second Floor

To access the convention center’s second floor, you must take the stairs or the elevator. Since only one access point exists, this part of the second floor can become congested. If you have mobility issues or are using something on wheels, like a tote with class supplies, you will want to take the elevator, but otherwise, the stairs are generally the best choice.

The First Floor- Lounge, Book Sale and Appraisals

This space is across the hall from the lecture room, sometimes called the basement. If you ever attended the Paducah quilt show in the “old days,” this room was called the basement because, shockingly, it was in the basement. When the expo center was added, and the hotel was torn down, the building’s configuration shifted so that this area is now on the main floor of the convention center.

In past years, this room hosted special exhibits and vendors. Starting last year, it is a lounge area sponsored by AccuQuilt. You can sit, charge your phone, and try the AccuQuilt system here. 

In 2024, the first floor space will also include the Finkle Book Sale and the location for quilt appraisals. The Finkle Book Sale has tons of quilting books at a deep discount. It’s a treasure hunt, so be prepared to spend some time looking through the bins of books. Older AQS QuiltWeek merchandise is also available at a significant discount.

The Paducah Dome Pavilion- Learning Center, Vendors, and Special Exhibits

Because this show is so big it can’t be contained in the main convention center, a temporary dome/inflatable bubble/marshmallow is put up for even more vendors and exhibits. This space is enormous!

Many people miss this part of the show, but you definitely want to go to this area!

A big reason to visit the pavilion this year is to visit my vendor booth. I’m in Booth 4210 and can’t wait to see you there!

Interior of the Dome Pavilion in 2023

The AQS Learning Center

The AQS learning center is in this space and offers free presentations throughout each show day. It’s fun to take a break and sit down for a few minutes. The presentation schedule is available on page 23 of the Show Book.

I am giving a demonstration on Friday afternoon at 2pm on Foundation Paper Piecing with Irregular Shapes.

Special Exhibits in the Dome Pavilion

  • Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA): Haven
  • The Presidential Quilts, Collection of Sue Reich
  • Made to Shine Quilts: Paducah’s Clark Elementary School
  • AQS 40th Anniversary Exhibit

The descriptions of all special exhibits are available on pages 66-67 of the Show Book.

Accessing the Dome Pavillion

 It is a short walk from the main convention center, or you can take a shuttle between the two spaces.

Note: This structure has some pressurization that helps it stay standing. Opening my mouth while going through the revolving door eases the transition between indoors and outdoors.

Exterior of the Dome Pavilion in 2023

The Dome Pavilion is not included in Preview Night, but I have found that it has the lowest crowds if you go first thing in the morning on Wednesday, the first day of the show.

Special Events, Lectures, and Classes

There are too many events to list here, so check out the Show Book! My favorite special events occur before the show even opens!

The Awards Ceremony

Be the first to know which quilts received awards! Although the tags and show book provide little information about each quilt, the awards ceremony provides more about the process and inspiration behind each winning quilt.

The 2023 AQS Paducah QuiltWeek Awards Ceremony

Preview Night

This is your chance to see the show with fewer crowds! If I had to choose just one special event to attend, I would pick this one. Hint: If you want even fewer crowds, start with the exhibits upstairs and move downstairs towards the night’s end.

Classes and Lectures

Classes are divided into workshops, lectures, and special events. Most of the hands-on workshops are filling up, but feel free to get on a waitlist if there is something you would like to do. Lots of lectures are still available, and they are often my favorites!

General Planning Tips

Working Around the Crowds

  • To avoid crowds, consider visiting the main show floor, which is mainly in the afternoons.
  • All show areas are less crowded in the afternoon, which is an excellent time to take quilt photos.
  • The Dome Pavilion is practically deserted on the first morning of the show, so that’s a great time to shop and see the special exhibits.

Parking and Traffic

  • I almost always park on the streets near the convention center.
  • There are a few paid lots near the convention center and free lots closer to downtown. This year, paid parking is available in the convention center lot. (In past years, this was exclusively for handicap-accessible parking.)
  • There are several one-way streets around the convention center- pay close attention to where you are going.
  • Traffic patterns to access the convention center and parking may change yearly, so check the showbook for details.
  • Shuttles and trolleys go around town, including the museum, downtown, Hancock’s, and many local hotels. Routes are available in the Show Book.


  • There are food tents and trucks in front of the convention center. As a vegetarian/pescatarian, I rarely find much to eat there, so I typically go off-site for lunch.
  • If you eat at the convention center, try to eat at an off time to find seating. Otherwise, be prepared to stand or sit on a curb.
  • There are several excellent restaurants downtown if you are looking for a wonderful sit-down lunch.

Around Town

As you plan your trip to Paducah, check out last week’s blog post about some of my favorite QuiltWeek events and shops that aren’t directly related to the main show.

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