Granton Barn Quilt Trail 2012
Folk Art Form Takes Root in Granton Area 


Traditional Barn Quilt Pattern

This more traditional barn quilt pattern, made of bold geometrics in bright,
contrasting colors and hung on a 100-year-old barn,
can be found south of Granton on CTH K.
  (Contributed photo)

Curiosity seekers wonder what exactly a barn quilt is and why the fancy decorations are exploding on the rural scene.

During the upcoming Granton Fall Festival Sept. 7-9, artist Jay Parker, formerly of Granton, will be giving a talk at the Granton Community Center about the history of barn quilts.  He will be completing an already-started quilt as a demonstration.

In addition, there will be barn quilts to view and instructions for making your own quilt.  The idea is to generate interest in the idea among local farmers/residents so they will make and hang their own quilts, thus building a “quilt trail” in the Granton area.

At the start of the Fall Festival, there should be three quilts hung in the Granton  area.  One is already placed in the Granton countryside, and the others will be hung at Webster’s Hardware and at the Granton Community Center.

In conjunction with the talk/demonstration, the Granton Community Center will be selling made-to-order ice cream sundaes for $1 each.  The public is invited to the ice cream social and barn quilt talk Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Granton Community Center.

Ice cream sundaes will be available from noon – 2 p.m.  The barn quilt talk/demo begins at 12:30 p.m. and will last approximately an hour.

Parker said the quilts to be hung at Webster’s Hardware and the Granton Community Center will be different than the standard quilt patterns.

The idea for barn quilts began in Adams County, Ohio, in 2001 when Donna Sue Groves wanted to honor her mother, an avid quilter.  Groves painted a quilt square to be placed on the family’s barn for all to see.

The idea was quickly expanded with the help of the Ohio Arts Council to create a trail of 20 sampler quilt squares that would encourage people to travel local roads in search of them.

Other communities and counties in 29 states and additional areas in Canada have since added trails of their own.  There are over 3,000 barn quilts that are part of organized trails, plus there are other quilts that are not part of noted trails waiting to be found.

Parker said Wisconsin only has a few pockets where barn quilts are displayed (Green County has 117, Lafayette has more than 60, Kewanee County 18, Racine County 21, Door County 17).

“Just as there are bird watchers who will travel far and wide and even build their vacations around finding and adding another bird sighting to their ‘life list,’ there are now individuals (and even charter buses of them) who do the same to find, view and photograph barn quilts,” Parker said.

Entire barn quilt routes are now promoted as tourist destinations, drawing people and their tourist dollars to locations far and wide.  Those who make barn quilts often choose a cherished family quilt as their inspiration.

“I thought that bringing this idea to my central Wisconsin hometown of Granton, an area of the state this idea had not yet reached would be a great way to generate tourism for the town,” Parker said.  “The quilts are attractive and because they attract people to the area to view them.  Although the barn quilt movement has no connection to the local Amish and Mennonite families, the quilts are a natural tie-in to these communities, which are known for producing fabric quilts of great color and design.”

The quilts themselves are not made of fabric, a common misconception, but of plywood or medium density hardboard.  Generally, designs with bold geometrics and bright, contrasting colors are the easiest to see from a distance.

After the painted design is complete, the quilt is hung – the method for doing this can vary with every type of building, but, in general, a two-by-four frame is attached to the back of the quilt and then the entire unit is hung on the building.

A barn quilt can help beautify a property.  Of course, getting other people to see the quilts once they are up is the purpose of the Quilt Trail.

Businesses can benefit from the additional traffic generated by the quilts and farms with a line of specialty products (honey, garden produce, greenhouse plants, crafts, etc.) could benefit from the added customers.


From the Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

August 22, 2012

Transcribed by Dolores Mohr Kenyon, February 11, 2019

Web page by James W. Sternitzky PhD, February 13, 2019

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