Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fantastic debut of the AQS Lancaster quilt show

The first-ever AQS show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is now history, but its stunning debut is just the start of a new tradition. Congratulations to Marilyn Badger of St. George, Utah, for winning best of show with her quilt Filigree, shown here.

Thousands of quilters traveled from all over the United States and Canada last week to converge on this small but cosmopolitan city (which I was told is correctly pronounced LANK-a-stir). The combination of a rich cultural heritage, diverse museums and attractions, plentiful nearby hotels and B&Bs, specialty shops and boutiques, and a wonderful array of terrific restaurants within walking distance of the downtown convention center makes this a very attractive location for a quilt vacation. The quality of the quilts on display was outstanding, and vendors traveled from as far away as California and Montana to participate in this venue.

My two favorite downtown Lancaster attractions were the Quilt and Textile Museum and the Central Market. Housed in a former bank featuring a vaulted ceiling and Beaux Arts architecture, the Quilt and Textile museum’s permanent collection includes the world-famous Espirit Quilts, considered by many to be the finest collection of authentic late 19th and early 20th century Amish quilts indigenous to this region. (Because most of the quilts are protected under glass, photography is permitted.)

This photo of two side-by-side quilts shows the difference between fabrics used in Amish and Mennonite quilts. The Mennonite quilt on the left features brighter colors and commercially-produced prints, while the Amish quilt fabrics on the right are all solid colors in a subdued palette. But you’ll learn so much more about Lancaster county quilts from the knowledgeable docents and the well-documented displays.

The Central Market is America’s oldest farmers’ market building, in operation since the 1730s. On Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday each week, farmers bring locally-produced meats, vegetables, bread, flowers, crafts, and desserts to sell in colorful and mouthwatering displays. I couldn’t resist the homemade jams, chocolate, and some specialty cheeses, which made the trip home to Colorado safely.

And then there were the quilts! Row upon row of amazing quilts at the show, from traditional to avant garde. To see all the winning quilts, use this link: Almost every class offered at the show sold out in advance, so be sure to make your plans early for next year’s Lancaster show, March 16-19, 2011.


  1. Sounds like a great time. As a native Lancastrian, I love your note about the pronunciation of Lancaster. It is a pet peeve of mine.
    My daughter is getting married at the Lancaster Marriott in 2011. We'll add the Quilt Museum as a must see for our guests. Great article.

  2. Oh how I'd love to go to a quilt show, it sounds amazing!