Home » Paducah’s golden thread: Quilting’s $20M economic impact

Paducah’s golden thread: Quilting’s $20M economic impact

37,000 artisans visit annually for AQS Quilt Show

PADUCAH, Ky. — While quilting may seem like a traditional craft, in Paducah it’s a thriving industry that has showcased our community on the global stage as the Quilt Capital of the World.

Paducah’s journey to becoming the Quilt Capital of the World began in 1985 when the American Quilters Society (AQS) hosted its inaugural quilt show in our city. Drawing over 5,000 attendees to Paducah, it was evident that something special was unfolding. Since the first AQS Quilt Show, Paducah has hosted this event every year, attracting over 37,000 visitors annually from all over the world, with an economic impact of $20 million on the local economy.

Legacy of the National Quilt Museum

But it is not just the AQS Quilt Show that draws quilters to Paducah; in 1991, Paducah became home to the National Quilt Museum (NQM). Since its opening, the NQM has welcomed over 1 million visitors, curated more than 250 exhibitions, and served 90,000 students. The museum also showcases the work of thousands of today’s most talented artisans.

Global Recognition as a UNESCO Creative City

Paducah’s designation as a UNESCO Creative City stands as a testament to the profound impact of quilting on its cultural and economic landscape. As one of only six communities in the United States given this honor and among a hundred worldwide, Paducah proudly celebrates its designation. UNESCO recognition not only honors Paducah’s legacy but also showcases its commitment to preserving and promoting cultural diversity, creativity, and innovation on a global scale.

Weaving quilting into everyday life

Beyond the show and museum, Paducah’s quilting industry is woven into the fabric of everyday life. Quilt and fabric shops shape the town’s landscape, with stores like Hancock’s Fabrics becoming integral parts of Paducah’s economic ecosystem, providing both locals and visitors with access to materials and expertise.

Through strategic investments, visionary leadership, and a deep appreciation for tradition, Paducah has transformed a humble craft into an economic engine that drives prosperity and fosters creativity. As other communities look for pathways to sustainable development, Paducah stands as a shining example of the transformative power of art, culture, and entrepreneurship.

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