burkholder2Barns and Thanksgiving go together like turkey and stuffing.

Come to think of it, barns are probably even more emblematic of Thanksgiving than turkey, because they represent the storehouse, the bounty, the sense of having come full circle the fourth Thursday of every November.

A year ago this Thanksgiving, Ashtabula County did not have a Barn Quilt Steering Committee. Co-founders Chris Angerman and Kathy McCarty were pitching the idea, dreaming and researching, but the trail seemed years, rather than months, away.

Thanks to a group of very dedicated volunteers, the trail is a reality. More than 30 quilts will be on the Visitors Guide map when it is printed in January 2015. We have a quilt on a covered bridge, and plan to add more. We have quilts at art centers, on gift shops way out in the country and on garages where grandpap fixes the bicycle, sharpens the lawnmower blade and paints another barn quilt. We have one at an apple orchard that’s been around for nearly 90 years, and on a winery that is a leader in Ohio’s wine industry. We have them in just about every corner of the county, and we are working with property owners throughout Ashtabula County to add more in 2015.

Our steering committee has pitched the concept at 4-H carnivals, historical society festivals and fish fries. We adopted the Graham Road Covered Bridge for the Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival and raised more than $700 by selling hot dogs, cider, popcorn and apples. This money will be used to promote the trail and perhaps sponsor quilts at public locations. Because we have to earn every dime we spend, the committee is quite frugal with its funding. BTW, thanks to the Ashtabula Arts Center for being our fiscal agent.

While we are giving thanks, I must recognize some folks who really made it happen for us at the Graham Road Covered bridge event. Thanks to you, we turned a profit and got a lot of attention:

  • Jeff and Rachel Scribben, who made sure we had hay bales, coffee pots, camp stove, tables, chairs and so much more. Without you and your lovely family, this event simply would not have happened. Thank you also for being our technical adviser and helping us get that first 8-by-8-foot quilt hung on the bridge.
  • The Benson family, which came out in numbers for the quilt dedication, provided cake for the crowd and assisted with the installation. That quilt is on that barn thanks to the farm equipment that was provided, and the expert operator, Susan Benson. Thank you!
  • Our musicians, Bob Turner from Ashtabula (actually, Preston County, W.Va., native who took the wrong turn and ended up here); Andre Debevc, who made our Sunday  morning so enjoyable; and the bluegrass group from Trumbull County. You guys were awesome!
  • Bob Benson, who was at the bridge earlier than any of the volunteers, setting up the power cord and making sure we had everything we needed. Bob, I hope to have one-half the energy you have when I am 92!
  • Carl J. and Cossette Feather. Although not members of the committee, they donated their time hauling firewood from Austinburg and a fire ring from North Kingsville so we could cook hot dogs over a wood fire. Actually, it was they who cooked the dogs, both days, with help from their grandson and granddaughter-in-law, Aaron and Kristi Feather, and great-grandson, Mason, on Sunday. Thank you for your expertise and patience, for being able to handle multiple dog orders at one time and cooking them to order.
  • Scribblers Coffee in Geneva gave us a generous donation of coffee! Thank you. It made the mornings bearable; that first pot at 7 a.m. Sunday was especially appreciated by the volunteer who slept in his car at the bridge Saturday night!
  • Cold Springs Orchard, Austinburg. The cider was perfect, as were the apples! Thank you for sharing your gifts of the land with our committee.
  • Covered Bridge Gardens, Jefferson. The Prochkos brought a special popcorn blend to the table for our event. Our guest loved the popcorn, and the birds appreciated the lost kernels!
  • Spouses of the committee members, who gave up our company on a beautiful October weekend in order that we could make this event a success.
  • The Ashtabula Arts Center, for handling our proceeds and expenses as fiscal agent.
  • The Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau, for supporting us with printing, banners and a table!
  • The Covered Bridge Festival Committee, for allowing us to sponsor the bridge. Thank you Ginger for all the hard work you and your group put into this effort.
  • Visitors who stopped at our bridge, gave a generous donation for a hot dog, bought merchandise and took the time to learn about barn quilts.

We, as a committee and individuals, have much to be thankful for this November. We are blessed beyond measure to have come together and become friends through this group. We often hear of a lack of cooperation or vision in Ashtabula County. That has simply not been the case with this group. We were determined to make this happen, and each person contributed their skills and resources to making this vision a reality.

Why not consider becoming a part of our effort?