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.
Suzi 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. 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the local barn quilt trail at barnquiltsashtabulacounty.com. And find out more about the new book at barnquiltinfo.com.