Each year, Bonita and Dean Tooley hop into their mini motor home in Edgewood, New Mexico, and drive more than 1,000 miles to Paducah, Kentucky, for QuiltWeek.
When the Tooleys first came to Paducah for the quilt show in 1999, they were “spellbound” by the quilts, the dogwoods, and the red carpet welcome they received (and still do) from the city of Paducah. Coming from horse and cow country in New Mexico, they enjoy the annual trek to the floral beauty of western Kentucky. Every year, Dean said, “they can’t wait to get back.” They especially appreciate the strawberries at the Boy Scout stand and their stay at Fern Lake Campground.
A school teacher who taught 2nd grade through high school during her long career, Bonita noted that 5th grade is the one she loved the most. Why? “Students at that age are interesting and fun,” she says. “Also, I’m 4″11 and they loved to play basketball with me,” she said with a smile that reflected her love for the sport. Dean’s career was with the Boy Scouts of America. They are a couple who love fun and adventure!
Among their most fond memories of Paducah quilt shows is the city’s response within three days of the start of the 2011 show to the rising flood waters of the Ohio River and evacuation of the quilts to spots around town. They were concerned that the show would not be as impressive, but seeing the quilts hanging in some of the beautiful churches and other locations in the area combined with the sense of everyone pulling together by show opening on Wednesday was incredible. The show was different, but it was just as beautiful as always.
Although this year’s trip was shorter than most because of obligations back home, the Tooneys enjoy spending a few extra days each year in the Paducah area. We’re always happy to see their smiling faces, and look forward to seeing them again next year.