The “quilts” are not actually made of fabric. Instead, colorful traditional and original quilt block designs are painted on 8-foot-by-8-foot (or smaller) pieces of DiBond® and mounted with screws on the sides of barns. Each structure showcases one quilt square or “block.”
Quilt enthusiasts will recognize such well-known designs as Rose of Sharon, Double Wedding Ring, Turkey Tracks, Flying Geese and Log Cabin.
Another traditional design is the LeMoyne Star, which is represented at Stop No. 1, located along U.S. 219 between McHenry and Accident. The Fratz farm hosts the county’s first barn quilt, which is painted in the colors of the Maryland state flag — black, red, yellow and white.
Original designs include Stop No. 7, the “Circle of Life in Garrett County,” located on a whitewashed barn in the Finzel area between U.S. 40 and I-68. Designed by local resident Ginni Neff, this creation was the winning entry in the Garrett County Quilt Block Contest. The square depicts many aspects of life in the county, including its four distinct seasons.
Another original design and one of the newest on the tour is Stop #39, “Maple & Cows.” Located at 2956 Gorman Road (U.S. 560), this beautiful design highlights the Steyer family farm’s two main operations: Maple syrup and dairy farming. Steyer Brothers Maple Syrup is a family business that has been in continuous operation for over 100 years.
Garrett was the first county in Maryland to offer a trail, according to the Barn Quilt Association of Garrett County Inc. The 501©(3) nonprofit is operated entirely by volunteers, with additional support from the Garrett County Arts Council, Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, and Tucker Community Foundation, as well private donations from individuals.
“Our group of volunteers share a vision of expanding local tourism, sharing our heritage, educating the public, and celebrating our farms, barns, and quilting culture in our beautiful Appalachian Mountains,” said Karen Reckner, Garrett County Arts Council executive director.
The barn quilt concept began in Adams County, Ohio, with Donna Sue Groves, a native Appalachian. She had purchased an old farm that included an old tobacco barn. To honor her mother, an avid quilter, Groves came up with the idea of painting a quilt block on the barn. She chose the Snails Trail design. Barn quilt trails can now be found in at least 30 states and two Canadian provinces.
The idea of establishing a local trail began nearly 10 years ago with Reckner, who discovered barn quilts during a trip to Ohio.
“After a couple years of admiring barn quilts across the nation, a group of four women got together to discuss how to make barn quilts a reality in Garrett County,” she said. “In December 2007, the group first met to brainstorm, then organize their ideas. By February 2008, the whole community was represented in the effort.”
Although there are now more than three dozen barn quilts in Garrett County, the association wants to continue its mission. It costs the group about $300 per design for materials. Persons who like to sponsor a quilt or make another type of monetary donation can obtain more information by visiting garrettbarnquilts.org, calling 2240) 321-9040, or emailing info@GarrettBarnQuilts.org
. The group’s USPS address is Barn Quilt Association of Garrett County, 809 Memorial Drive, Oakland, MD 21550. Donations are tax deductible.
Persons who would like to contribute their time and talent are also invited to contact the association.
“We’re always happy to have more volunteers” Reckner said. “We need help laying out and painting the designs, hanging the barn quilts, researching the designs for copyright issues, and more.”