Friday, October 31, 2008

Half Time Report: Houston Quilt Festival

We're at the half-way point of the mighty Houston International Quilt Festival, and we're hanging in's been a show of challenges, for sure. Starting off on Wednesday when I dragged myself to the car with only a few hours of sleep on board, to load up all the paraphernalia necessary for the booth. Problem is, I haven't done a show with a full booth set up since June, and the various pieces and parts had scattered to the wind. What normally takes 20 min. to pack, took over an hour and a half. Leaving me late, late, late for the road trip....

I normally have Mom with me at this show to help with set up, but this year we'd decided to save one of her vacation days at work, and have her fly in on Thursday instead. Mistake!! Because by the time I drove to Houston, got stuck in rush hour traffic, unloaded the car from the farthest available parking spot to the booth, and got set up, the show's preview had been open for 20 min. already. I was mortified! And not only that, all the exertion combined with being ill made me shake in exhaustion the rest of the night.

So then I get to the hotel after the preview closed at 10pm, and I'm shocked to find myself in SkankyTown. Seriously. Within a block of my hotel, there are four stripper bars. The hotel itself has left its best days behind it. Smelly hallways, stains on the wall that I do NOT want to know the origin of, and tiny, lumpy pillows. Now, folks, I don't stay at Motel 6. I usually make sure I'm in a moderately decent hotel otherwise I don't want to keep traveling. It's not worth it to me. If I hadn't been so tired I would have checked out Thursday morning, but I didn't have it in me.

Mom got in on Thursday around 11am, and by noon we decided I needed to go back to the hotel and SLEEP. I was barely functioning. I was so grateful for the three blissful hours of napping before I went back and worked the last two hours of the show and picked Mom up. After seeing our diggs last night she agreed that a change in venue was in order. So on a whim, I checked the conference hotel, the Hilton, and sure enough I was able to get us a room for our last two nights in Houston for just $20 more a night than we were paying at SkankyTown.

I hereby vow that I have learned my lesson and will make my reservation early at the convention hotel from here on out. The five minute walk to the expo hall vs. the 30 min. drive is sweet too.

The show itself is always overwhelming. Being exposed to all the quilts and fabrics is inspiration at every turn. I've managed to walk about 2/3s of the show so far. I have to hold myself back from buying stuff - like I have time to take up another hobby! But it's hard every year until I shake myself and yell, "Get real!" Then reality returns and reason wins out.

Attendance seems to be slightly off, and spending is certainly down across the showroom floor. I'm not too surprised given the events of the last few months, but it's still not fun to see.

Houston is still showing quite a bit of hurricane damage too. Mom remarked about the sea of blue tarps covering roofs across Houston as she flew in, and in downtown there are still many buildings with windows covered by plywood. One building in particular has lost probably 4-5 contiguous floors worth of windows. Very striking to see.

Mom's snoring away as I write this, and I'm green with envy. But I couldn't wait another moment to update the blog! I know you guys are out there, wondering what's up! More later...

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