Barn quilts popping up around region

The Inter-Mountain photo by Shannon Bennett Campbell This barn quilt is proudly displayed near Minnehaha Springs in Pocahontas County.

One of the special springtime activities that takes place in many mountain homes is the annual long drive to view the greening pastures, the plowing and planting of seeds, the blooming of fruit trees and the arrival of new lambs, calves and colts to the area. It ritualistically assures us that life is moving-on at a normal pace and we share its occurrence as a stabilizing part of our lives.

As I was journeying through southeast West Virginia on one of these pleasant trips, I noticed something I had never seen before. There in the distance was the rustic barn I had always remembered, but on its side was painted a brightly colored quilt-square that certainly caught my attention. I was at a loss to know where this idea came from, but a few more miles down the road another landowner had copied the idea and yet another quilt piece was upon a barn.

It was just recently that I learned at a conference these decorative barn additions are called barn quilts. Ohioan Donna Sue Groves began the idea in 2001 to honor her mother and her Appalachian heritage by having a painted quilt hung on her barn in Adams County, Ohio.

Today more than 7,000 quilts are part of organized trails and this simple idea has spread to 48 states and Canada. While this seems to be a fad that is catching on, it certainly provides an artistic decor for weather-worn barnwood and lifts a building’s appearance from an old relic to a cheerful greeter on the road.

There will be a certain part of our population who will feel old barns should be left alone to pass away in their natural state, but others may want to join those in the quilt barn movement to make a statement (in color, no less) and offer a new way to brighten up the countryside.

Let it be said that we live in an age when the annual springtime drive may offer more to look at than usual. I just wanted to share what I learned about this new idea, and I will know when you see one that you will not be shocked or at a loss for what to call it.

Do get out and do some driving to get familiar with all the scenery. After all, this is why we live here. It has always been the case that the West Virginia countryside provides a feeling similar to the Glen Campbell song lyrics “gentle on our minds.” Conversation pieces and sights that we will want to make part of our watch as summer unfolds are appearing daily and beckon our attention. If you are lucky, a quilt square will meet you around a curve.


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