|This is my first trip to the Quilt Festival, so I can't rate it on past experience ... but here are my impressions.
First, the show opened at 10:00 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. I was concerned about parking ... the web site mentions parking might be a bear. I came from the West, took I-10 to the Smith Street (Theater District) exit, took Smith up to Dallas, took a left on Dallas which runs right up to the Convention Center. I found ample parking about 5 short blocks from the Center about 9:20. Actually, as I walked closer towards the Convention Center there was even closer parking.
Waited in a very short line to buy a ticket (I had bought a Saturday ticket ahead of time, but found out I'll be busy Saturday). Waited inside until they opened the doors at 10:00 am. Lots of people, but still not too crowded.
The layout of the Center is like this -- on the right side are all the exhibited quilts; to the left side are all the vendor booths. Someone suggested doing the vendors first since most people go to the quilts first. I did so and it worked very well -- the vendors didn't get crowded for an hour or so.
Lots and lots and lots of booths selling fat quarters -- seemed kind of excessive. Lots of beads and buttons, too. Most booths had exhibits of quilt and such, but not all were for sale. Many were just samples of work done with that particular vendor's wares.
This really is a "Quilt" festival -- while there were some regular sewing and notions, about 75% of the booths were quilt specific. Lots of hands-on projects -- a decent part of the exhibit floor was reserved for "make it yourself" projects. You had to reserve a spot through an on-going lottery for a space to do a project.
Sewing machine booths were Pfaff, Singer, Bernina, Brother, and Babylock. Bernina was the most crowded. I wasn't impressed by the prices -- I expected more real "show specials". The prices I was quoted were the same I could have gotten at any sewing store.
I spent some time in the quilt exhibit portion -- these quilts are artistically so far advanced from what I think of when I hear "quilt" that you almost need another word to describe what they are. The "photo-realism" quilts are real big right now -- they're impressive, but I find them creepy.
If you do this show, get there early. The late risers kept streaming in as the day went on. The aisles finally got so crowded that you couldn't really move. There was at least one aisle that I skipped because I just couldn't get through.
One pet peeve -- they rent little motorized "scooters" for folks who don't feel like walking. I can appreciate that some folks legitimately need this kind of aid, but when you put a hundred or so scooters in an already crowded venue, you get gridlock. What was really irritating was when people would "park" their scooter in the aisle (blocking the aisle) so they could get off and walk around. One aisle had a scooter parked sideways at one end and another scooter parked sideways at the other end. It was like the police had blocked off a street with their police cars. No one could get in to or out of this particular aisle.
Once the vendor hall became gridlocked, I visited the quilt exhibit hall. It felt like I was in a fine art museum. I was in awe of the incredible artistic talent.
One last grip -- the food was pretty bad and pretty pricey. I had a $6.00 slice of greasy pizza with a $3.00 soft drink. The baked potato at $7.00 might have been the best deal.
Bottom line, quilters in particular will find much of interest at this show. General sewers will find some interesting things, but will have to fend off crowds to do so.