Paducah Kentucky, A UNESCO Creative City - GoUNESCO

Every year when I was a kid, my family and I took the drive from Florida to Missouri during the holidays. That 18 hour road trip was forever engrained in my head as an annual marathon of potty breaks every 2 hours, staring at the tv screen in the back of our mini van and the occasional pit stop to pick up a quick bite before we get back on the road. One city in particular we always seemed to pass through, Paducah Kentucky. I remember stopping here for food every other year, or maybe I just remember the odd name and the location we seemed to always get gasoline prior to crossing the state border (Gasoline was always more expensive in Illinois) In every case I never once would have imagined this city to be one I would be writing about in the future about its cultural craft that is apparently world famous. Two years ago I managed to drive through this city (The last time I drove through here was probably 10 years ago) and something caught my eye.


So at the time of me seeing this I was well into my discovery of the UNESCO world heritage sites so when I see “UNESCO CREATIVE CITY” inscribed on the side of a water tower in this small town that I never thought twice about driving through as a kid for 10+ years you better believe I was in shock and also slight disbelief that this city was an UNESCO site of some sort. So naturally I did some research and found out that

“Paducah joined Santa Fe (New Mexico), Aswan (Egypt), Kanazawa (Japan), Icheon (South Korea), Hangzhou (China) and Fabriano (Italy), as Cities of Crafts & Folk Art in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network on November 20, 2013. The designation was the culmination of a five-year application process led by the Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) to leverage the destination’s assets to impact local economic, social and cultural development.” [1]

At this point my mind is blown. Not only do I now have to venture out and see all 1052 World Heritage sites (at the time of this writing) but also now I need to go out and explore all 116 UNESCO creative cities! Each provides a unique form of intangible art and culture to the world for everyone to appreciate.

To much of my excitement Paducah is just a 5 hour drive form where I live! So naturally I felt the need to talk about Paducah’s unique craft that is world renown.  The fact that this tiny city provides as much of a unique cultural craft as larger more established historical cities around the world left me impressed that’s for sure.

What is Paducah known for?


I never would have guessed that one.

That doesn’t mean it’s a bad surprise. I’m actually excited to know that there is a city in the United States acknowledged by UNESCO for its intangible cultural heritage and creativity for the art of quilting! It is something I never would have guessed I would’ve ever learned about, let alone go visit in all my years as a child passing through on my road trips. Quilting is something many people my age associate with their grandparents. At least I do, and I find that kind of sad the more I think about it. It makes me realize that some things I have taken for granted. Quilting is something I never would’ve thought twice about cherishing the cultural and artistic aspect of.

This is why I love GoUNESCO.

During its 2011 presentation in Seoul, South Korea, The mayor Bill Paxton and members of the Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau had to submit its case to UNESCO members to become part of the creative city network. “The presentation demonstrated how Paducah was currently engaging in dialogue and sharing creative concepts with many cities within and beyond the network–predominately through programs provided by the National Quilt Museum, American Quilter’s Society, Paducah School of Art, and the Paducah Artist in Residence Program. The Museum exhibits embody the broad spectrum of quiltmaking by showcasing time-honored traditional designs and methods while simultaneously acknowledging and encouraging the art quilt movement that began in the mid-1970s.” [2]

If you’re ever driving through the area and you see an UNESCO sign, be sure to stop by. Even if it’s in a small city you never thought twice about while growing up, I can assure you there is a reason UNESCO deemed it significant to preserve for future generations.


[1] – Mazzone, Darlene. “Paducah: A UNESCO Creative City.” Home. Paducah Life, Jan. 2014. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.

[2] – “UNESCO Creative City | Paducah.” UNESCO Creative City | Paducah. Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2015. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.

[3] – Museum, The National Quilt. “Approved Photos.” The National Quilt Museum. Amanda Ball, 2014. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.

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