Quilt Trail Gathering
Brochures from some of the many Quilt Trails that were represented at the Quilt Trail Gathering in Adams County Ohio on May 13-14, 1011. Photo by Alex Labry.
In late springtime, Adams County Ohio is a verdant place, its rolling hills full of lush greenery, morning mists steaming over plowed fields, and black locust trees in bloom. Tidy Amish farmsteads, covered bridges over gurgling creeks, and picturesque old barns make a drive through the county’s winding roads a visual delight. Those barns, in particular, were the inspiration for a coming together of quilt lovers from all over the United States and Canada on May 13-14, 2011.
Adams County was the birthplace, ten years ago, of North America’s first Quilt Trail, and it was Adams County’s barns that sparked the idea. Former Ohio Arts Council employee Donna Sue Groves had the vision of painting quilt squares on some of the old barns, thereby creating a driving trail that would encourage tourism, support local artists, benefit the local economy, pay homage to her Appalachian heritage—and most importantly—honor her quilt artist mother, Nina Maxine Groves (see Quilt Raising).
The idea spread—not only to many other counties in Ohio, but also to 29 other states and two Canadian provinces to date—and morphed to include other structures besides barns. A decade later, it was appropriate that the first celebration of what is now known as The American Quilt Trail Movement be held in Adams County.
The Quilt Trail Gathering assembled a diverse group with a common goal of applauding the power of one terrific idea and the realization of that vision through the efforts of many. Attendees were treated to enlightening keynote speeches, panel discussions, exhibits, tips and techniques, networking opportunities, Appalachian entertainment, and delicious food. Everyone had the opportunity to add paint to an actual eight-foot-by-eight-foot quilt square that is to be mounted on a barn in a neighboring county.
Highlighting the event were “Three Minutes of Fame” presentations, in which Quilt Trail representatives from various states gave overviews of their own Quilt Trails. These were necessarily brief because there were so many, but they were all impressive. The creative ways in which groups involved their communities via youth organizations such as 4-H, senior citizens, and local businesses; raised funds; selected sites for quilt squares that embodied the characteristics of their area (such as grange halls and fair buildings) when barns were not available; decided who would paint the squares; and publicized their trails were not only informative, they were exciting.
The Trails have definitely had a positive economic impact wherever they’ve been established, creating jobs for artists, providing merchandising opportunities for entrepreneurs, and bringing tourism dollars to local economies.
Most inspiring were the stories of the way the Quilt Trails have brought communities together, helped heal rifts between families, and provided means of expressing patriotism, local pride, and even love (such as the man who chose his wife’s favorite quilt block to go on his barn so that she, suffering with dementia, could look out the window, see it, and perhaps be reminded of a happier time in her life).
Donna Sue Groves was the heart and soul of the Quilt Trail Gathering and her mother, Nina Maxine, was its gracious hostess. Despite ill health, Donna Sue managed to imbue the event with vitality and positive focus. Without these two women, the American Quilt Trail Movement would not exist and it is their gentle, yet, dynamic spirits that provide the underpinning for its future expansion.
If the attendees at the Quilt Trail Gathering can serve as indicators of what can be accomplished, then it is quite possible that all of North America could one day be linked by a series of Quilt Trails.
Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement by Suzi Parron and Donna Sue Groves is being published by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press. It is scheduled to be released in February 2012.
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Column 134: Deaf Initiatives—Communicating Through Quilts
Column 133: My Betty Boop Quilt
Column 132: Maura Grace Ambrose
Column 131: All You Need Is Love
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Column 123: Quilters de Mexico
Column 122: An Appliquéd Surprise
Column 121: Matisse’s Fabric Stash
Column 120: Soogan—The Cowboy’s Quilt
Column 119: The Ron Swanson Quilt
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Column 117: How WWI Changed the Color of Quilts in the United States
Column 116: Wagga—The Bushman’s Quilt
Column 115: All in the Family
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Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
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Column 107: National Quilting Day
Column 106: The Airing of the Quilts
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Column 104: Dominoes
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Column 102: Helen Blackstone, A Texas Quilter
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Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
Column 99: Montana Stockgrowers Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 98: The Tobacco Sack Connection
Column 97: Meet the Sisters Who Are State Fair Quilting Queens
Column 96: The connection between fairs and quilts.
Column 95: Her Mother Pieced Quilts
Column 94: Rebecca Barker’s Quiltscapes
Column 93: The Thread and Thimble Club Mystery
Column 92: The Ballerina Quilter
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Column 90: Leitmotif for a Lifelong Love Affair
Column 89: Quilting in The Bahamas
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Column 86: Linzi Upton and the Quilted Yurt
Column 85: A Bounty of Quilts
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Column 83: Quilts and the Women’s Liberation Movement
Column 82: Replicating the Past: Reproduction Fabrics for Today’s Quilts
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Column 80: Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum
Column 79: 54 Tons of Quilt
Column 78: Ollie Steele Burden’s Quilt Blocks
Column 77: Quilting with AMD
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Column 75: The Modern Quilt Guild—Cyberculture Quilting Ramps Up
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Column 73: Maximum Security Quilts
Column 72: Author: Terri Thayer
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Column 68: “Think Pink” Quilt Raises Funds for Rare Cancer Research
Column 67: Righting Old Wrongs.
Column 66: 100 Years, 100 Quilts - More on the Arizona Centennial.
Column 65: Arizona Centennial Quilt Project
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Column 63: The Fat Quarters
Column 62: Quilt Fiction Author: Clare O’Donohue
Column 61: Louisiana Bicentennial Quilt
Column 60: The Camo Quilt Project.
Column 59: Thread Wit
Column 58: Ralli Quilts
Column 57: Preschool Quilters
Column 56: The Story Quilt
Column 55: Red and Green Quilts
Column 54: On the Trail
Column 53: Quilt Trail Gathering
Column 52: True Confessions: First Quilt
Column 51: Quilted Pages
Column 50: Doll Quilts
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Column 46: A Different Way of Seeing
Column 45: Sampling
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Column 43: A Star Studied Event
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See other archived columns here