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The Blade – Barn Quilt Tour – A Powerful Attraction

Barn Quilts! You have probably noticed some beautiful “quilts” on barns in other communities, and they are starting to pop up locally, too. Throughout the United States, they are really becoming a draw for tourists. Folks like to take “Barn Quilt Tours” and travel a whole area to see them.

What are they? “Barn quilts are painted quilt squares-usually fashioned on boards and then mounted on a barn or other building,” says Suzi Parron, author of the book, Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement. “The pattern for a particular barn quilt may be chosen for myriad reasons. Often the barn quilt is a replica of a painted quilt that resides on the property or honors a loved one. A pattern may be selected because of its name. Corn and Beans is popular among farmers. Sometimes, the barn quilt is simply one whose pattern is appealing to either its creators or its owners.”

How can we benefit? A local barn quilt tour would provide many benefits to a small community like ours. It can build community excitement and enthusiasm in working together toward a common good. Experiencing the obvious interest from urban folks in what our rural community provides will add to the excitement of showcasing what we offer.

The Illinois Office of Tourism acknowledges the benefits of these tours as they directly increase tourism in our State. Increasing tourism means increased dining, shopping and lodging which yields more revenue for our community, which in turn helps make our area a better place to live.

What is the status? The Livingston County University of Illinois Extension office and the Livingston County Farm Bureau believe that Livingston County is a prime location for a Barn Quilt Tour. Currently, they are looking to form a committee to discuss creating a tour. They need folks who are passionate about our community.

What can you do? In order to create a Barn Quilt Tour here, assistance is needed from individuals, businesses, barn owners, students, artists, volunteers, community leaders, local food growers, and more. Of course, there is a need for potential barns or buildings to hang the quilts, supplies to make the quilts, ideas, and feedback.

“If you or someone you know has an interest in helping move this forward, it would be a huge help to the entire community,” says Bobbi McKeon, coordinator of the Specialty Shops group in Fairbury.

“In the end, everyone benefits from increased business and money spent in our area. In other counties, barn quilt tours have been very helpful in boosting tourist activity. Let’s work together to put on a successful tour in Livingston County.” Bobbi says.

On a local level, Bobbi would like to know of your interest, although she says, “I am not an expert on barn quilts.” Her phone number is (815) 692-4500.

If you can help in any way or would like to be part the Livingston County committee, please call Aimee Ingall, University of Illinois Extension Community & Economic Development Educator at (815) 842-1776.