The Lake County Quilt Trail project—the first of its kind in California—places painted quilt squares on highly visible barns and buildings throughout Lake County. It is an agricultural and tourism project designed to promote and celebrate community pride. It all began in 2009, when Marilyn Holdenried, the founder and chairman of the Kelseyville Pear Festival, discovered a grassroots movement that captivated her imagination. “While attending the International Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN, I was introduced to the Quilt Trail project concept,” she said. “I was totally hooked! We needed this project in Lake County.” With seed money from the Kelseyville Pear Festival, the project was able to begin.
On March 27, 2010, the Lake County Quilt Trail committee marked the launch by hanging a vibrant “quilt block” on the barn at Hill Creek Ranch, owned by Lou Ann Bauer. The barn features the pattern “Square in a Square” in bright red, white, and blue. The Lake County Quilt Trail was born!
Over ten years after the Lake County Quilt Trail launched, there are now over 120 quilt blocks painted.
Colorful quilt squares began adorning the barns of Adams County, Ohio, in 2001. The idea came from Donna Sue Groves who painted and hung the first quilt square on her barn honoring her mother, Nina Maxine Groves, an expert quilter, and to celebrate the shared Appalachian agricultural heritage of Ohio. Donna Sue’s early vision was to create an imaginary clothesline of interconnecting barns decorated with quilt squares across Ohio.
“The barn quilts are public art that celebrate the place people call home,” said Donna Sue Groves. “They make people feel good about themselves and where they live.” The idea caught on like wild fire and her dream of linking that region has expanded to over 40 states and two Canadian provinces, creating a large network of organized trails of over 3,000 barn quilts just waiting to be discovered.
Today, an all-volunteer quilt trail project team creates unique painted wooden squares that are hung outside on a variety of buildings. Quilt blocks can be hung on barns, wineries, farm stands, or businesses. The team consists of quilters, graphic artists, painters, writers, carpenters, and a videographer. Each quilt block pattern is selected to connect with the history of the building, honor farming, celebrate the family, and pay tribute to the generational history of beautiful quilts.
The Lake County Quilt Trail provides opportunities for individuals, families, organizations, and businesses to work together in much the same way that traditional quilters have worked through the generations. Each project site captures the spirit of place using ‘art’ for community celebration and economic development. New squares are added every year—check this website to keep up with the current “Block List” and to read in-depth histories and descriptions of Lake County’s Quilt Squares.