HOUSTON – July 15, 2020
From Karey Bresenhan, Founder & Director Emeritus of International Quilt Festival
Who could have known, when I was in my 30s, nearly broke, and starting Great Expectations Quilts and Quilt Festival, that here I’d be 45 years later, in the midst of a deadly pandemic, worrying about our budget, and having to make the decision to cancel that same show? Who could have known?
But that is what I am doing. It is with the greatest regret that I must announce the cancellation of our 46th annual International Quilt Festival in Houston, previously scheduled for October 29-November 1 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
We have read every single one of the hundreds of responses to our inquiry on Facebook and our emailed surveys as to what you, the quilters who have enjoyed Festival or who have dreamed about coming, would like us to do about Festival this year.
From you I have heard: “Cancel, Karey. Think of us, keep us safe. None of us can risk catching the virus or taking it home to our families.” Your responses came through loud and clear: cancel the show and do it now!
When you run a major show, with arrangements and contracts signed months, if not years, in advance, you can’t move as quickly as you would like, but we are cancelling Festival now.
In these uncertain and even threatening days of COVID-19, many quilt-related businesses are suffering drastic loss of income and facing financial difficulties, and that includes us and many of our exhibitors. We produce quilt shows and cannot do so in the current environment. In fact, Quilts, Inc. has had to cancel Spring Quilt Market in Pittsburgh and postpone the reintroduction of our Summer Quilt Festival in Long Beach.
We didn’t build Festival into the wonderful event tens of thousands of you enjoy each year—the show with more excellent classes, more incredible quilt exhibits, and more outstanding exhibitors—by ignoring you, the quilters. We’ve always paid close attention to your suggestions and guidance as seen in your responses to our many surveys.
And so once again, we’re listening to you.
However, we are also listening to our exhibitors, to the governmental entities that control big events like Festival being held, and to the powers that be at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Even if we were able to hold Festival this year, it would be under such severe restrictions and limitations from the city, county, and convention center that it would be hard to recognize the resulting show.
But…we’re also seeing some responses from our beloved Festival die-hards: “We’ll be there! I’ll come! We’ll need this show after all the lockdowns and quarantines.” We hear you, we appreciate you, but we just can’t do what you want. The safety of our attendees, our students, our faculty, our exhibitors, our volunteers, our Piece Corps, our staff, even the staff at the Convention Center, must be of paramount importance.
And so we are cancelling Festival this fall. It’s sad, but strangely enough, along with the sadness, there’s just a glimmer of excitement over a new adventure as we plan on taking Festival into the Virtual World! So stay tuned, folks!
Founder, President, and CEO of Quilts, Inc.
What’s happening with Quilt Market?
As you know, Market, our trade show, precedes Festival. This show has been cancelled as well, and a separate press release will be issued very shortly.
What happens to my hotel or airline reservations?
If you booked at one of our official host hotels, your reservation will be automatically cancelled, fully refunded, and you will receive communication from the hotel. This will also apply if your dates stretch over portions of both Market and Festival. You are responsible for cancelling your own airline reservation. Check to see whether you need to cancel by a certain date. Be sure to get a cancellation number just in case.
When is next year’s show?
Houston Quilt Festival 2021 is scheduled for October 27-31.
Are you planning a Virtual Quilt Festival?
Yes, it’s something you’ve asked for. And it will be wonderful. Different, but fun!
You mention “severe restrictions” on a 2020 Festival. What kinds of restrictions?
More than you can imagine! Masks to get in or stay in the show; temperature checks to get in the door; guards to enforce social distancing; restricting use of restrooms to 2-3 people at a time and having to clean in between these small groups to a hospital grade. These are just a few of the restrictions, which are continuing to evolve as the situation with the pandemic changes. We hope these will be eliminated as the threat of COVID-19 diminishes so that they will not apply to a large show toward the end of 2021.
What about the International Quilt Association’s Judged Show?
Entrants to the fall 2020 Judged Show will receive information from IQA shortly.