How did MQX get started?
Machine Quilters Exposition, LLC (MQX) is an annual machine quilting show and conference founded by machine quilters, Janet-Lee Santeusanio and Mary Schilke. MQX embraces all machine quilters, regardless of the size or model of machine used to complete the quilting process.
What started out as a get together for longarm quilters in New England rapidly morphed into the largest machine quilting show in the United States. Well known for its friendliness, attention to detail and dedication to their vendors, students and teachers, certainly had humble beginnings.
On April 15, 2000 Janet-Lee organized a group of longarm quilters to hang out, eat, chat, eat and share their machine quilting experiences after seeing several invest in quilting machines then rapidly sell their machines due to the solitary nature of the business. Forty women showed up in Janet-Lee's living room and it is there that Janet-Lee and Mary met. Janet-Lee's nose was a bit out of joint as Mary arrived very late with several other women that had just toured numerous quilt shops on the way. It was a fortuitous meeting.
In 2001 and 2002 Mary Schilke took over the get together moving it to an inn located in Franconia Notch (the White Mountain area), New Hampshire. In 2002 the ranks had grown to over 100 and it was then that the group decided they wanted to have a quilt show in conjunction with the meeting. Neither Mary nor Janet-Lee had ever organized or run a quilt show but figuring they could learn as they go, they took the plunge. These two very opposite women teamed up and formed Machine Quilters Exposition, LLC (MQX).
MQX was moved, yet again, to the Winnipesaukee Exposition Center in Laconia, New Hampshire in early 2003 and these women formed a 5 year plan to move the show to a convention center in 2008. A few classes were offered, a vendor mall added and quilts arrived for hanging and they were off! Little did they know that the machine quilting industry was ready to take off and they were in the midst of a dramatic growth period. In 2003, Janet-Lee and Mary registered 157 students and over 1,000 people showed up to take in the vendors and the quilts. In 2004 that number grew to 260 students and over 1,800 attendees with the 5 year plan tossed out the window!
In the summer of 2004, MQX was moved to The Center of New Hampshire convention center in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire and again, the show saw unprecedented growth. In 2005 they registered 551 students and over 2,200 attendees and they continue to this day to grow the MQX product. The numbers still shock these now experienced show organizers ...... 2008 produced 1216 students with another 3,200 additional attendees. During the 2008 show, hotel management approached Janet-Lee and said that that the hotel was sold out for 2009....... a full year in advance which pushed them to find a larger venue to accommodate MQX.
In 2010 the show moved to the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island. With the economy in shambles, it is surprising that expansion would even be considered but expand they did! Exhibition space was increased by 40% to accommodate a demonstration stage, make and take area as well as more vendors, quilt displays and special exhibits. As with any move, Janet-Lee and Mary were warned of a possible drop in attendance and student registrations. Fortunately, that was not the case and the show realized a 17% increase in gate attendance and a moderate 3% increase in student registrations.
In 2012 MQX again hosted the MQX East show in Providence and we are looking forward to our next show in April 2013 in Manchester, New Hampshire. After several years of being urged to bring MQX to the Pacific Northwest, MQX West debuted at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon in October 2011 and will return October 2012.
Stay tuned for new developments these two women have up their sleeves. Whatever it is, it's sure to be well done and fun!