Whether this is your first time attending Road to California or you’ve been several times in the past, we want to make sure you have the best possible conference experience. We asked one of our staff, Stevii Graves, for her tips on how to prepare for a quilt conference. Stevii has attended many quilt conferences of all shapes and sizes and she has perfected strategies that have made the difference between a good and a GREAT conference.
Stevii’s Five Tips for a Great Quilt Conference
1) Wear Comfortable Shoes. There is a lot of walking involved at the conference. The vendor booths, exhibits, refreshment areas, and classrooms take up the entire convention center space. It is important for you to be comfortable as you maneuver around the various offerings. A podiatrist would tell you to wear socks and lace up shoes with an enclosed heel (a la tennis shoe). A thick cushy sole also helps put a bounce in your step. If your feet aren’t happy, then you won’t be either.
2) Think Layers. The convention center is a giant cavern and can be on the cool side. Eating your buffet lunch on the patio to enjoy the sunshine is enticing, but the air will probably still be a tad chilly. Classrooms can heat up quickly with so many energetic quilters at work. Wear clothing that is comfortable and layered so you can adapt easily to the varied temperatures.
3) Ditch your purse. Purses can get heavy, the straps slip off your shoulder and they are always in the way. Stevii prefers to wear a nylon name badge holder around her neck. In the badge holder she has some cash, a credit card, driver’s license and a mechanical pencil for note taking. The Road to California booth (H-1) sells the nylon badge holders. Or, if you want to be creative, you can make your own badge holder, using the Java House (booth 8-9H) pattern. Order the pattern on-line or buy one at the show so you will be ready for next year. She also recommends sticking a lipstick in a pocket and putting your cell phone where God intended you to put your cell phone… in your bra. Or better yet, go by the Graphic Impressions (booth 317-319-321) and buy a sparkly iPhone holder that goes around your neck. 4) Have a plan. Decide if your starting off place is going to be vendors or the quilt displays. For Stevii, SHE HAS to go up and down rows in some logical manner. If she’s starting with vendors, she goes to one of the back corners to start. It is less crowded back there and the vendors are thrilled to see you. If she needs supplies for home or for a class she is taking at the show, she has a written list of what she needs right in her hot little hand. Stevii always stops to see the demonstrations in the booths. After all, she figures you never know what tidbit of information you can pick up by watching and listening. Write your notes down in a Road to California Show Book that is available for $1.00 at the show. As Stevii admits, she has a hard time remembering where the cute pattern booth is located or where she heard that expensive bundle of fabric calling her name. Keeping track of this stuff in the Show Book saves brain power and a lot of frustration too. 5) Buy it when you see it. Take advantage of vendor deals and don’t risk the chance of having your favorite item being sold out. If your purchases are weighing down your arms and shoulders, you can leave your bags with the Boy Scout Sack Sitters in Room 102. The tips the Boy Scouts get from this activity send them to camp every year. You can even leave your sewing machine and supplies with them overnight.
There you have it from the expert. A little pre-planning goes a long way to making the most of your conference experience.
Do you have any other handy hints to add to Stevii’s list?