Lauren Byron is hoping to make Stokes County even more attractive to local visitors one barn quilt at a time.
When she moved her small business of paint and sip classes in Walnut Cove to a different location, a bright cheery red barn, she began to look for art that would complement her new space. She stumbled across information on barn quilts, large pieces of wood painted to look like quilt blocks.
“I started reading about it and it was interesting,” she said. “It’s a grassroots movement that began in 2001 out of Ohio. It was started by Donna Sue Groves and she wanted to honor her mother, who was a quilter.”
Groves painted a block of her mother’s favorite quilt and hung it on her barn. Soon after, her neighbor did the same and then others in her town followed suite.
The simple idea spread to 48 states and to Canada. More than 7,000 quilts are part of organized trails; dozens more are scattered through the countryside waiting to be discovered.
Byron explained once a county is listed on the national registry, a map details each barn quilt throughout the community and there is a growing number of people who make trips all across the country to view the works of art.
“This is one of the reasons I’m excited about it because it’s such a positive for tourism in our area. Quilting is coming back, but it’s being done with a modern twist. I don’t know that I have the patience to sew with a needle and thread, but I love to paint and I think a lot of people feel that way,” she said.
Walnut Cove’s elected officials recently invested $3,000 towards materials, supplies and installation of 50 barn quilts.
“We’re very appreciative,” Byron said. “They’ve been supportive and they understand what we’re trying to do.”
Byron’s enlisted the help of Tory Mabe, the county’s Economic Development Tech Analyst, who has already added the barn quilt trail to the popular Hanging Rock State Park, Stokes County app.
“Tory has been a great help. We want this to be a Stokes County project. I’m really hoping we can do 100 in Walnut Cove, 100 in King and 100 in Danbury. We want people to visit our county, to stay overnight and enjoy our restaurants and shops. And we want to show them our barn quilt trail.”
For more information about the barn quilt trail, follow Stokes County Barn Quilt Trail on Facebook or to sign up to paint a barn quilt contact Byron at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.