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Russell County kicks off Barn Quilt Trail at fair

Published on -5/16/2013, 3:11 PM

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RUSSELL -- One of the largest public art displays in the nation will kick off its appearance in Russell County in July during the annual county fair.

The American Barn Quilt Trail includes more than 3,000 barn quilts, inviting visitors to travel the countryside to enjoy barn quilt art nationwide. Russell County will join several other Kansas counties to feature barn quilts and promote the tourist attraction.

The proposed quilt trail will feature decorative barn quilts created by local artists. The RC Quilt Trail Committee hopes as quilt enthusiasts become aware of the project they will add their own quilt art to the trail.

Barn quilts are quilt square designs painted on wooden sheets and then affixed to barns or other outbuildings. Quilt squares in the rural areas are traditionally 8-feet by 8-feet. Those located "in town" are 4-feet by 4-feet, to be included on the national register.

"There is growing interest in barn quilts across the country," said Pam Soetaert, one of the project coordinators. "The interest in barn quilts and our connection to agriculture makes this a natural for our area."

Drive through the countryside anywhere in rural America and barns and outbuildings abound.

They drape the landscape in designs, colors and architecture. In years past, some barns were painted to display advertisements.

Years ago, a woman from Adams County, Ohio, wanted to honor her mother by hanging a colorful painted quilt block on her barn. She soon began a community project in which 20 quilt blocks were displayed along a driving trail to encourage visitors to travel through the countryside. This was the start of the first quilt trail in America.

According to Suzi Parron, who authored "Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement," quilt trails now are being organized across the country. Quilt blocks are displayed on barns around the countryside and then mapped out for tourists to follow these amazing works of art.

"Volunteers with the quilt trail committee believe the quilt trail will draw visitors into our rural communities as well as promote countywide pride and showcase agriculture," Soetaert said.

There are 20 "project blocks" available at no cost, if the block is exhibited at the fair and then donated to the RC Quilt Trail. They are available on a first-come basis. However, anyone can enter the open class exhibit at the fair. The guidelines are on the Russell County Free Fair website at www.russellfair.org.

This year, the fair is July 23 to 27. Entries in the open class Quilt Block Exhibit are due at the Russell County 4-H Building between 6 and 8 p.m. July 24. There will be four prizes awarded in this category, starting with $50 for the top honor.

New participants are welcome to join the trail committee. Those interested in creating quilt blocks or with a barn or outbuilding to display the quilt block on are encouraged to contact the Russell County Quilt Block Committee, through the Russell Area Chamber of Commerce, (785) 483-6960 or director@russellchamber.com.

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