Arts & Culture

World’s Biggest International Quilt Festival will take place this weekend

This year’s festival will start on Thursday, Nov. 2 and run through the weekend with shopping booths, displays, classes, and lectures.

Attendees pack George R. Brown Convention Center for the annual International Quilt Festival.
Quilts Inc.
Attendees pack George R. Brown Convention Center for the annual International Quilt Festival.

Not every Houstonian might know the upcoming International Quilt Festival is one of the most popular conventions the city hosts.

Bob Ruggerio is Vice President of the Quilt Inc. communications department. He said the festival started from the company's founder, Karoline Bresenhan, decorating her local antique store in the 1970s with her family's quilts.

"More people came in, they started asking about the quilts and buying the quilts than the antiques, she figured she was onto something," Ruggerio said.

Bresenhan decided to host a quilt show as a customer appreciation party expecting only a few hundred people to show up. Over 2,000 people ended up attending the first quilt show.

Ruggerio said the festival used to be held in community centers or churches.

"And it just grew, and grew, and grew to where at one point we took over all five halls of the George R. Brown Convention Center. In fact, we were the first major consumer show to be held in that building. And that's where we stayed," he said.

This year's festival will start on Thursday, Nov. 2, and run through the weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on most days. There will be more than 1,000 shopping booths with quilts, fabrics, and supplies, as well as classes and lectures for all experience levels.

Ruggerio said attendance isn't what it used to be, but it's still the world's largest quilt show and saw over 50,000 people from nearly 40 countries before the pandemic.

Over 1,600 quilts and other unique works of textile art will be on display. Some of the special exhibitions for the festival can be previewed online. Ruggerio said there are quite a few quilts that will make people go, "That's a quilt?"