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 Ontario Convention Center. And this year, we’ve added even more space for you to explore with the new pavilion area. 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. While we boast of the wonderful Southern California sunshine, you need to be prepared for possible weather changes. Last year for the first time, it rained during Road. And there is always the possibility of some Santa Ana winds. Conditions inside are just as important to plan for. The convention center is a giant cavern and can be on the cool side. 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– inside and out.
3) Ditch your purse. Purses can get heavy. The straps slip off your shoulder and they are always in the way. Clothes with a lot of pockets are a great choice. Stevii prefers to wear a 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 (1H) sells nylon badge holders. Or, if you want to be creative, you can make your own, using the Java House (booth 8-9H) pattern. You can order the simple pattern on-line and put it together before you come. Stevii 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.
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. She suggests starting in the back corners where it is less crowded. If she needs supplies for home or for a class she is taking at the show, she keeps a written list of what she needs right in her hot little hand. Stevii recommends keeping track of where you’ve been and where you want to go by writing notes down in a Road to California Show Book. You can purchase a book for $1.00 at the show. 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. 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?