Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tillamook County Quilt Trail

The latest effort to spur tourism in rural areas while promoting an American folk art tradition and bringing communities together is the Quilt Trail. It all began with a quilter, Donna Sue Groves, in Adams County, Ohio. Groves, a field representative for the Ohio Arts Council, wanted to paint a single quilt square on her barn as a tribute to her mother, also an avid quilter. Other neighbors became interested in the idea and it was decided to paint 20 local barns with quilt squares, the number on an average quilt. The project would serve as a celebration of an Appalachian folk art tradition and encourage tourists to drive through the back roads of Southern Ohio.
Soon, quilt patterns, typically 8-foot-square, with colorful names like Brown Goose, Snail’s Trail, Broken Dishes, and Old Maid’s Puzzle began appearing on Adams County barns and a Clothesline of Quilts was born. The concept was so popular it soon spread to other Ohio counties. Quilting groups, 4-H clubs, art councils, tourism offices, and other community organizations embraced the idea, and quilt barns began appearing throughout Kentucky, Tennessee and other Appalachian states.
Today, Clotheslines of Quilts and Quilt Trails can be found in over 23 states and it is estimated over 1500 barns are painted with quilt squares. Oregon’s contribution to this concept can be found in Tillamook County, which has enjoyed a long tradition of dairy farming and has plenty of barns. This is the first Quilt Block Trail on the West Coast. The project began in 2009 by identifying historic barns and decorating them with painted, wooden quilt blocks. Most of the quilt patterns come from a book, Patterns for an Oregon Quilt, and were designed exclusively for Oregon. Pick up a brochure/map at the Chamber of Commerce center on Hwy. 101 next to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, Latimer Quilt & Textile Center (pdf map available at web site), or the wonderful Tillamook County Pioneer Museum. Not only does the brochure provide a detailed map to the 13 barns, but also a family history of each farm.

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