All posts by Carl Feather

Parron-Smith program is May 10

With the April 15 release of the new book, “Following the Barn Quilt Trail,” Ashtabula County’s Barn Quilt Trail will receive additional exposure and recognition for its quilts on covered bridges.

689@2x-1Suzi Parron Smith, author of the book, interviewed local barn quilt trail co-founders Chris Angerman and Kathy McCarty for her second book on the subject. She also requested high resolution images of the county’s most stunning barn quilts. The committee submitted the Benson’s Bridge barn quilt on the Graham Road Covered Bridge.

Smith will be in Ashtabula on May 10 to talk about her adventures following barn quilt trails around the nation. Her program is sponsored by Ashtabula Friendly Quilters and is free. The First Church of the Nazarene, 1820 South Ridge West, is hosting the event.

Smith’s program gets under way at 6:30 p.m. She will sell and sign her new book following the presentation. The Ashtabula Quilters will offer refreshments and plenty of time for the quilting community to meet and talk.

Following Parron’s visit on Tuesday evening, the Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva on the Lake will offer a special Barns and Bridges tour of Ashtabula County starting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 11. This tour will last three hours and will visit several of the county’s covered bridges, including those with barn quilts, and a several other barn quilt locations. The tour leaves from and returns to The Lodge and Conference Center.

Reservations for this tour must be made in advance; call the lodge front desk, 466-7100, to hold a spot on the tour. There is a charge for this tour, which will be led by Carl E. Feather, a barn quilt steering committee member and author of “The Covered Bridges of Ashtabula County.”

The Lodge and Conference Center is the official lodging host for Barn Quilt Trail visitors and the Parron-Smith event.

Getting the ball rolling

Less than three years ago, Suzi Parron – she was unmarried then – came to this very church to talk about the barn quilt movement. At that time there were only a few barn quilts scattered around the county, most of them only 2-by-2 feet and none of them on a formal “trail.” A barn quilt trail sets standards for the quilts so they will remain attractive for years to come. Having a trail with committee oversight also ensures that only those quilts that can be seen from the highway are included.

Gary Tabor built this covered bridge from discarded lumber. A monkey wrench-pattern barn quilt is on the bridge.

Gary Tabor built this covered bridge from discarded lumber. A monkey wrench-pattern barn quilt is on the bridge. Although not on the trail, Tabor’s 8-by-8-foot barn quilt on his toy museum in Williamsfield Township is on the trail.



Parron’s presentation lit a fire in the hearts of McCarty and Angerman, who were soon joined by those in the tourism development, arts and agriculture community to establish a trail. About nine months after Parron’s visit, volunteer firefighters from Plymouth Township raised quilt number one on the Ashtabula County Barn Quilts Trail. A modified log cabin design, the barn quilt is on the Blakeslee Log Cabin’s barn.

That 4-by-4-foot barn quilt has much company, with more than five dozen barn quilts on the trail. With support from the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau, a map to the barn quilts, covered bridges and wineries of the county appears inside the 2016 Visitors Guide. The guides are available from the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau office on Austinburg Road, as well as at many restaurants, hotels and government offices.

Amir Garakouei, Ashtabula County Highway Department superintendent, watches as a new barn quilt is added to the Mechanicsville covered bridge the morning of July 16, 2015.

Amir Garakouei, Ashtabula County Highway Department superintendent, watches as a new barn quilt is added to the Mechanicsville covered bridge the morning of July 16, 2015.

The steering committee’s first barn quilt on a covered bridge, Graham Road, came in the fall of 2014. Since then, barn quilts have been added to the bridges at Mechanicsville and South Denmark. Slated for a barn quilt this year are the bridges at Benetka Road, Giddings Road and Doyle Road.

The Civic Development Corporation became involved in the project in 2015 and funded a number of 8-by-8-foot barn quilts on heritage farms and public properties. The CDC’s grant also will assist the City of Geneva in their massive 16-by-16-foot barn quilt on a downtown building. Painting of this quilt got under way last weekend with a group of volunteers assembling in the Geneva Rec Center to draw the patterns on the 16 individual “blocks,” or barn quilts. Painting of the patterns began Thursday evening.

When the barn quilt is unveiled in July, it will be, to the best of the local committee’s knowledge, the largest barn quilt in Ohio.

All of this was sparked by the visit from Parron in September 2013. Imagine what could come out her visit May 10!

For more information on Parron-Smith’s presentation, send an email to Visit the local barn quilt trail at And find out more about the new book at

Happy New Year

2015 was a good year for the Ashtabula County Barn Quilt Trail.

Backed by a grant from the Civic Development Corporation, the steering committee accomplished its goal of adding more large, 8-by-8-foot quilts to legacy barns and covered bridges. The last of these went up as the year came to a close, on the Smolen Engineering Barn in Jefferson Township.

Our 2016 map, which is part of the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau visitor’s guide, will soon be printed. We are running out of room on the map, with more than 60 barn quilts on the trail. Two years ago, there were none.

This spring, we’ll welcome Suzi Parron back to our county as she does a presentation and book signing at the Ashtabula First Church of the Nazarene. Suzi’s first presentation in the county, more than two years ago, got the ball rolling for us to start  the trail; imagine what her second visit will do!

We already know that her new book will include a  photograph of the Graham Road Covered Bridge decked out in its new barn quilt. Earlier this year, the trail got a visit from Neil Zurcher, who featured it on his One Tank Trip segment. And we’re told that Cleveland Magazine has slated a story about the trail for its May 2016 issue.

All these good things have come about through the dedication of our volunteer steering committee and property owners who are part of the trail. We are grateful for every barn owner who has taken the time and resources to pursue this amenity. And we welcome those who are still sitting on the rail fence to make the move in 2016 and become part of the trail.

During 2016 we hope to bring our focus back to the county’s farmers and their iconic barns. We too often forget the personal sacrifices that farmers make in producing our food. A recent story in The Ashtabula Wave about the Brinker family, which has a barn quilt, will serve as a reminder of the sacrifices. Be sure to check it out!

Brinker story.

Flag waves at Freedom Farm

A new barn quilt, installed on Veterans Day 2015, celebrates the freedom that is endemic to living in the “country.”

The 8-by-8-foot barn quilt was painted by Jeff Scribben of Artistic Woodworks and features a fluttering American flag in a geometric pattern.

The 1857 Freedom Farm barn on Route 84 West, Ashtabula, is home to the quilt. The barn is located across from the entrance to Lakeside High School.

The farm was purchased last year by two Cleveland-area couples, who are rebuilding and replanting. Read the full story of the quilt and barn in the Ashtabula WaveFreedom Farm 1-6-3.

2016 map finalized

The new barn quilt at the Joshua Giddings Law Office in Jefferson was recently installed, thanks to a gift from State Rep. John Patterson of Jefferson.
The new barn quilt at the Joshua Giddings Law Office in Jefferson was recently installed, thanks to a gift from State Rep. John Patterson of Jefferson.

After weeks of hard work by Jacklyn Krysna of the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau, trail co-founder Kathy McCarty and designer Linda Natco, our 2016 barn quilt trail map is ready for the printer.

This map, which shows the location of barn quilts, wineries and covered bridges, will be inserted into every 2016 Ashtabula County Visitors Guide. The ACCVB typically has a press run of 80,000 guides, which are printed in January.

You don’t have to wait until then to see the map. It is offered as a download that you can view online or print.  Please keep in mind that this map anticipates what quilts will be up as of June 2016, so some that are listed on the map won’t be completed and installed until then.

The steering committee is particularly pleased to have at least two sites pertaining to Joshua Giddings sporting barn quilts. His law office in Jefferson has a quilt that is installed on posts, and the Giddings Road Covered Bridge will have a barn quilt on the portal. The former barn quilt was made possible by a generous donation from State Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson. The Ashtabula County Historical Society funded the installation. Gary Tabor of Williamsfield Township painted and installed the quilt with assistance from Dave Martin, also of the society.

These sites are expected to be popular spots during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next year; having barn quilts at these Gidding landmarks will add another layer of interest for tourists.



Parron visit planned for 2016

Suzi Parron, author of “Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement,” will return to Ashtabula County May 10, 2016, to present a free program about the American Barn Quilt Trail Movement.

The Ashtabula County Barn Quilt Trail and Ashtabula Friendly Quilters Guild will sponsor the event, to be held at First Church of the Nazarene, 1820 South Ridge Road, Ashtabula. The program will get under way at 6:30 p.m.

The barn quilt trail movement was born in Adams County, in 2001. The movement has spread to 44 states and more than 4,000 barn quilts celebrate America’s rich quilting heritage. There are more than 60 barn quilts on Ashtabula County’s trail.

Parron has written a second book on the barn quilt trail and will discuss that book during her presentation on May 10. Her website is a resource for quilters and travelers to find trails and information.

For more information about Parron’s upcoming 2016 visit to Ashtabula County, call 440-536-4003.

Committee to host events at Graham Road

Graham Road, the center piece of an Ashtabula County Metro Park, sports an 8X8 barn quilt that honors the Benson family, which donated the land the covered bridge rests upon.
Graham Road, the center piece of an Ashtabula County Metro Park, sports an 8X8 barn quilt that honors the Benson family, which donated the land the covered bridge rests upon.

During the Covered Bridge Festival (Oct. 10 & 11), volunteers from the Barn Quilt Steering Committee will be at the Graham Road, Pierpont Township, covered bridge to sell covered bridge souvenirs, answer questions about barn quilts and provide entertainment, education and snacks.

The committee will have cold cider from Cold Springs Orchard, hot chocolate and cookies and other baked goodies. These items will be available for a donation; all donations help support the barn quilt trail.

There will be live music both days, with hay-bale seating for our guests! Music will be inside the bridge, so come out and enjoy rain or shine.

On Saturday, Bob Turner, who signs Bob Dylan and other folk songs, will be our guest performer. On Sunday, Andre Debevc and son will perform.

Our bridge also will host informational sessions on barn quilts and the county’s covered bridges. These sessions begin at 4 p.m. each day and will feature Power Points presentations with local author Carl E. Feather, “Covered Bridges of Ashtabula County” and “Hidden History of Ashtabula County” speaking. His books will be available for sale during the event at our bridge.

The bridge events get under way at noon each day; events wrap up at 5 p.m. daily.

Graham Road bridge is special to the committee because it was the first of the county’s covered bridges to get a barn quilt. The quilt honors the Benson family, whose story has been intertwined with the bridge for more than a century, when Bob Benson’s grandfather helped build it!

Wine tour to focus on barn quilts

Grand prize worth $100 offered in wine tour event

wine tourOn Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 17 and 18, several wineries in Ashtabula County and Connect 534 will hold a Wine Tour to benefit the Barn Quilt Trail.

The event is from noon to 6 p.m. each day. You can start the tour at any of the five participating locations:

  • Pairings, Ohio’s Wine and Culinary Experience, in Geneva
  • The Winery at Spring Hill, Route 84, Harpersfield Township
  • Grand River Cellars, Route 528, south of Madison Village
  • Debonne Vineyards, Doty Road (South River Road), Madison
  • Old Firehouse Winery, The Strip, Geneva on the Lake

Cost is $4 per person at each location. You will receive two wine samples and a light appetizer. All of these locations have a barn quilt, and a winery host will share the story of the quilt with the tour participants.

At the end of the tour, leave your passport at the winery for a chance to win a grand prize worth $100.

This is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the autumn colors and Northeast Ohio’s wines while supporting the Barn Quilt Trail.

Download the Wine Tour flier here and share this event with your quilting and wine loving friends!


A quartet of agriculture quilts

“United in Agriculture”  is the theme that ties together four barn quilts at the entrance to the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds in Jefferson.

The 4-by-4-foot quilts are displayed on a concrete wall that faces the main parking lot for the fairgrounds, which will host the county’s agricultural fair Aug. 11-16.

Ashtabula County’s Farm Bureau was an early adopter of the barn quilt trail and has supported the group with both a steering committee member, President-elect Lynn Frank, and donations to the effort. The Farm Bureau also sponsored a 4-by-4-foot quilt at the fairgrounds early in the process of setting up the trail.

On July 29, three more 4-by-4 quilts joined the Farm Bureau’s entity, completing the quartet of agriculture boosters in Ashtabula County.

Added to the display was a quilt honoring the Ohio State University’s Extension service, the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program at several county schools and the 4-H program.

The pattern for the latter quilt was submitted by Darian Gustafson, a member of the Vaquero’s horse and rabbits club. A contest was held earlier this year among the county’s 4-H members, who were asked to create the design for the 4-H barn quilt.

“I like art a lot, so I thought I would enter the contest,” Darian said, explaining her interest in entering. Darian’s design incorporates the 4-H pledge and is based around a flower bloom.

“We all grow like a flower,” she said.

Darion Gustafson's quilt design was selected for the 4-H bar quilt.
Darion Gustafson’s quilt design was selected for the 4-H bar quilt.

The entries were distributed to the clubs, which voted to select the design that would appear on the barn quilt.

“Your quilt is just beautiful,” Chris Angerman, co-founder of the trail, told Darian after the installation was completed.

The three quilts were painted by Jeff and Rachel Scribben of Artistic Woodworks. The Farm Bureau funded the OSU and FFA barn quilts; the county’s 4-H program paid for that group’s quilt.

“The Farm Bureau really has been the group behind this whole thing,” said Jenna Hoyt, OSU extension educator.

“It’s been a labor of love by the Farm Bureau to help support the barn quilt trail, and also the youth and agriculture in Ashtabula County,” Frank told the group.

Autographics in Jefferson did the vinyl portion of the OSU quilt and Here’s Your Sign created the vinyl for the “United in Agriculture” banner.

Volunteers and students work to get the banner symmetrically hung over the barn quilts.
Volunteers and students work to get the banner symmetrically hung over the barn quilts.

The original Farm Bureau barn quilt was painted by trail co-founder, Kathy McCarty.


South Denmark’s quilt up

A dry spell of several days finally gave crews from the Ashtabula County Highway Department safe working conditions for the installation of a barn quilt on the South Denmark Road Covered Bridge.


The installation was accomplished July 28, 2015. Highway Department Superintendent Amir Garakouei supervised a crew of five: Dale Jacobs, Dave Hurst, Mike Waters, Tim Lachey and backhoe operator Dave Millard.

To access the center of the bridge over Mill Creek, a track hoe was maneuvered into the stream above the bypass bridge and within a few feet of the covered bridge. The arm of the hoe was used to lift and place a work platform against the bridge; Rebar was bent to hold the scaffold in pace against the bridge’s side.

The barn quilt was lifted from the river bank using the track hoe and eased onto the scaffold, where Dale Jacobs and Dave Hurst, aided by a crew of workers on ropes inside the bridge, brought the barn quilt to rest on a ledger board.

The quilt was painted by Steering Committee member Karen Rose and is a combination of flying geese and leaves. It measures 8-by-8 feet.

Ashtabula_County SDBQ3

Funding for the quilt was provided through the Civic Development Corporation of Ashtabula County.

Jeff Scribben and his son, Brandon, of Artistic Woodworks assembled the quilt, built the frame and assisted with the installation.

Ashtabula_County SDBQ1

The barn quilt is the third in Ashtabula County to be on a covered bridge.


3 agriculture-themed quilts going up

Three new barn quilts that honor organizations that support agriculture in Ashtabula County will be installed at the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds July 29.

The three quilts will join the Farm Bureau barn quilt, installed last year, on the concrete wall at the main entrance and facing the large parking lot for the fairgrounds.

Each quilt is 4-by-4 feet. Future Farmers of America, the Ashtabula County 4-H program and Ohio State University will be honored by the quilts. The 4-H quilt’s design is by a club member. Peers selected the design from a slate of options presented by other 4-H members in Ashtabula County.

Three more barn quilts will be added to this area of the fairgrounds, where a Farm Bureau barn quilt was installed in 2014,