On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast we’re talking about creating a quilt show with my guest, Matt Reese.

Matt is the owner of Road to California, the premier consumer quilt show west of the Rocky Mountains. Road to California features over 1,000 antique, traditional, art, and modern quilts and awards over $92,000 in prizes to artists from all over the world. 190 vendors come to the four-day event at the Ontario Convention Center in Ontario, California where 39,000 people gather to see the show, shop, and take 225 classes. Matt recently bought the show from his grandmother, Carolyn Reese, who has owned and run Road to California since 1990.

Matt at his law school graduation with his grandmother, Carolyn Reese, from whom he bought the Road to California. 

In this conversation, Matt traces the history and growth of Road to California from when Carolyn first bought it, when Matt was just three years old, to how it has transformed over the decades. It’s truly a remarkable story.

Matt met his wife, Jen, in the high school marching band. He went on to get a bachelor’s degree in tuba performance and then went to law school while working full-time at Road to California and intending to take the show over when his completed his degree. He asked Jen to marry him on the show floor.

longarm classes at road to california

Classes are a significant part of the programming at Road to California, especially longarm classes. Matt talks about what he’s looking for in an instructor and a class and how he finds new instructors at Quilt Market. If you’re considering beginning to teach on the national circuit definitely tune in to hear Matt’s tips!

Over 1,000 people attended Jenny Doan’s trunk show at Road to California 2018.

Vendors and special events are also a big part of fun of attending Road to California. And event continues in other formats throughout the year. When Matt and I spoke he had just returned from a quilting cruise that was co-sponsored by the show.

Technology plays a key part in keeping a show of this size running smoothly. Matt talks about recent upgrades to the online registration system and the complexity of the logistics involved behind the scenes.

And, of course, I ask Matt to recommend great stuff he’s enjoying right now. Matt recommends:

  • Spending time with a baby (Matt and his wife have a young son)

This year’s Road to California will be January 24-27, 2019. Keep up with the show by reading the Road to California blog, follow along on Facebook, and on Instagram.


Today’s show is sponsored by Hello Atelier, the podcast that takes you inside the artist’s studio. Join host Betsy Blodgett as she sits down with quilters, textile artists, ceramicists, painters and more – many in their very own studios. Further immerse yourself in creative worlds by visiting www.helloatelier.org to see photos from our studio visits and links to each artist’s work. Then, sign up for the Hello Atelier newsletter for bonus interviews with makers and entrepreneurs – past guests include Craft Industry Alliance’s Abby Glassenberg!

Hello Atelier is available on your favorite podcast app. Check out our most recent episode, an interview with quilt designer Luke Haynes. If you like what you hear, please subscribe and give us a rating.


You can listen to this episode by clicking on the green arrow below, or subscribe to the Craft Industry Alliance podcast on iTunes or on Stitcher so you never miss an episode. If you enjoy the show, tell a friend about it! Thank you so much.

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