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A New Year With A New Quilt Show

When the Ontario Convention Center officially notified Road to California’s owner, Matt Reese, on October 1, 2020, that they would be unable to house the show in January 2021 due to local and state Health Department rules, Matt had a choice to make. He could either cancel the 25 year show, shutting down a beloved quilting tradition, leaving him and the Reese a family without a source of income. Or, he could go out on a limb and transform Road’s traditional model to a new quilt show that could meet the current challenging circumstances. He chose the latter and embarked on creating the first ever, Road@Home— an all virtual, new quilt show unlike any online show tried before.

New Quilt Show

A Reese Family Tradition

Matt Reese is the grandson of Road to California’s founder, Carolyn Reese. Road has been a family owned and run show since 1995. Through the years, various family members have carried out different roles in presenting the show.

New Quilt Show

Matt got involved with the show in 2004 when he was 14 years old, first as a volunteer and later receiving a stipend for his work. His first responsibility was to haul equipment in and out of the Convention Center. In 2008, he took over for a cousin, first as the assistant to his Grandmother, then later moving on to logistics. Each subsequent year brought more responsibilities and more opportunities to learn all the ins and outs of running a successful quilt show. No matter what his job, Matt was always looking for better ways to run the business, making suggestions to improve it here and there. And if becoming more involved in the business wasn’t challenging enough, during this period, Matt not only graduated from college, but he also went on to law school and passed the California Bar Exam.

Because of his past experience working all aspects of Road, when Carolyn Reese decided to retire, it was an easy decision for Matt to step into the role of owner of Road to California, forging the way for the next Reese generation. Flexible work hours, a way to provide for his growing family, and inheriting a show with a proven track record, gave Matt the confidence to leave a lucrative law career and take over the family business.

Growing and Improving Road

From the very beginning in his new role as owner, Matt implemented important updates to develop an improved, new quilt show. These changes included hiring a professional software developer to create a new software program, registration system and website. Matt has also developed a more business savvy Road, setting a long-term vision while maintaining the family feel.

COVID 19 and Road

When Matt was first told that there could not be a traditional Road to California, it was the start of an “emotional rollercoaster” for him — and the Reese family. In one way, he was relieved that he didn’t have to keep wondering about how to offer an in person show during a pandemic. But on the other hand, how would Road be able to pivot to a new quilt show that could still be relevant and important to everyone involved? Matt recalls it was a time of a lot of “ stress” and “ sleepless nights. Whatever he was going to decide on going forward was going to “affect everything in my life.” He and his wife spent many nights going over every detail. Just as many other small businesses experienced with COVID-19, there were many times Matt and the team were unsure of the future of the show due to the pandemic. They did not give up.

Road has always valued our Road Family, not just the members of the Reese Family, but our vendors, teachers, sponsors, and of course, attendees. How could we bring an event that was safe and enjoyable for all?

The result of all this soul searching: Road@Home. Road@Home actually took a long time to come together as Matt never wanted to share something that he felt did not represent the Road Family in its entirety.

Welcome to Road@Home

Road@Home is not an in-person Road to California dropped into an online format. It is a totally new quilt show redesigned to fit a virtual format. Road@Home is its own unique experience, unlike any other virtual quilt show that has been offered in 2020.

To begin with, Road@Home has the largest collection of classes —over 200– more than any other show. More than 100 teachers from around the world applied to teach and Road accepted pretty much all of them. In-person Road could never have been able to offer such variety with so many quality instructors at one time and that’s exciting!!

 FL03 – Art Quilts From Photographs by Sandra Mollon on Friday, January 22, 2021

Road@Home has still been able to offer traditional fan favorites like a 2.0 version of Roundabout, a variety of vendors not found anywhere else, and Special Exhibits to inspire.

The latest technology has been adapted to prepare for Road@Home’s new quilt show launch. A special Zoom link has been established and a Road@Home YouTube channel is now available. And of course, Road has been utilizing their regular social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Road@Home is welcoming seasoned Road quilt show regulars as well as new participants who have heard about Road’s reputation but due to time and/or distance, have not been able to attend in the past. Anyone can participate with Road@Home’s offerings even if they don’t enroll in a class. After registering for a Road account and signing up for Road to California’s newsletter, anyone can take advantage of special events, lectures, and vendors.

Has the change to a new quilt show been easy? Not quite. Working with a skeleton crew to redesign a whole new program has kept staff extremely busy and extremely innovative. But as Matt Reese shares, everyone at Road agrees: “We’ve given our all to make Road@Home a really special experience.”

Will you be joining us virtually, January 20 – 23, 2021, for Road@Home?

28 Responses to “A New Year With A New Quilt Show”

  1. Michele T says:

    Wow! Great story! Wishing you every success in this new endeavour . It is a considerable task to organize, but the perfect solution in these unprecedented times!

  2. Elisa Purnell says:

    Looking forward to Road classes!

  3. Ellee says:

    Thank you for keeping Road going. Looking forward to many more years of fun and inspiration.

  4. Stacy Sundgren says:

    I’m so glad you’ve created this virtual festival! I would have never been able to attend otherwise. Thanks so much for your innovation and creative efforts to make sure the show is available for as many as possible.

  5. Ann says:

    Looking forward to Road@Home. Thank you for offering a way for to experience Road during these challenging times.

  6. Teri says:

    Glad we can at least see this online.

  7. Debbie says:

    Looks like a lot of fun.

  8. Joan Emerson says:

    I’m looking forward t taking classes o line. Went to last years show, and it was fantastic. Living on the east coast, virtual class will be an easy way for me to take it. Thank you!

  9. Lindsay Bruns says:

    Thank you for planning ahead for the future! I appreciate that this is a family business and you can feel the care and love that goes into this production for us, your supporters! Well done…carry on! 💕

  10. JoAn GODFREY says:

    what a wonderful opportunity for ME to be able to enjoy Road. i have always wanted to come, but travel from northern INDIANA has been impossible and prohibitively expensive. now i can take a lesson like i did in chicago years ago. can’t wait to look at the full class offerings.

  11. Sue says:

    Next year we will be back to normal

  12. Christi says:

    This whole year has taught us all to do things differently. I want to hug my friends and see quilts up close. Soon I hope. Are you getting cranky like the rest of us? Maybe we need some chocolate and some wacky quilts and some color. Not sure if I will take a class or not but I will be looking at all the beauty.

  13. bunny hand says:

    Online quilt shows are the silver lining of Covid‘a huge black cloud. There are many shows I could never have attended. Online, I can!

  14. Sue says:

    I’m very pleased that Road will be held virtually. It must have been a huge undertaking to switch to virtual and line up teachers to offer classes in this new format. Thank you and I can’t wait to attend!!

  15. Sharon Decker says:

    I am loving online classes in my sewing room where I have everything I need at hand.

  16. Kelly Kingston says:

    I look forward to Road every year. The classes, the quilts, the vendors. It’s everything in one place and so convenient given that I’m a SoCal girl. And although I’m sad that Road 2021 will not be the traditional in person event, I’m so excited that we can still experience it virtually.

  17. Suzanne says:

    Not sure if I will be taking a class or not — but I look forward to seeing what you have and all the quilts! Thank you for all of your hard work on getting this done online – it now opens it up to the world!

  18. Can’t wait to take “Through Thick and Thin”

  19. Julie says:

    I wish I had confidence in my ability to use zoom, I would have taken a class or two. Time zone too! I will find time to do other activities during the event and I am ready for 2022!

  20. I was thinking that I was going to go to CA to visit my son and to go to the “Road to California” this year…. oh well, best laid plans and all. I can still see him virtually, and now I found out that I can take classes and lectures virtually too!

  21. Susan the Farm Quilter says:

    Definitely looking forward to the show!! I need some eye candy to inspire me to get back into sewing and quilting after this awful year! Thank you for keeping Road to California going!

  22. Tammy Thomas says:

    Here’s to a New Year a better year

  23. Deb M says:

    Look forward to Road@Home! Thanks for keeping Road going!

  24. Sheila Ramsden says:

    I was very lucky to be able to attend Road 2 California in 2020, what an awesome experience. Looking forward to many more .

  25. Cindy Shelley says:

    I think it will be the next best thing to being in person. We still need to take precautions due to Covid. Hopefully next year in person.

  26. Melody Lutz says:

    What a blessing the Reese family has been to my creative soul, for more than 30 years!!!

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