A Stitch in Time
Discover beautiful patchwork on the prairie
This mariner’s compass quilt block resides on a barn belonging to Vernon and Anita Peck who live north of Vici, Oklahoma. Courtesy photo
Not only can you can take in Oklahoma’s natural beauty when driving along a rural highway, sometimes you can spot beauty in the form of painted quilt squares mounted on barns. Many property owners have joined the barn quilt movement to bring heritage, culture, tourism and a bit of fun to rural Oklahoma.
Ellis County Extension Director Lynda Latta blends her responsibilities for rural development and her passion for Oklahoma barn quilt trails. It all started a few years ago when Latta was driving through Kentucky and spotted her first barn quilt.
“It was a magical and mesmerizing thing to see,” Latta said. “On the way home, my wheels started turning and I found out that Oklahoma didn’t have a barn quilt trail.”
So, Latta set to work. She attended a three-day conference entitled “Cashing in on Quilt Trails: A Path for Economic Stimulus” where she learned to make barn quilts. While at the conference she met Suzi Parron, author of “Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement” and “Following the Barn Quilt Trail.” The pair pieced together a plan for a barn quilt trail in Oklahoma.
Latta said her goal is to have an online map linking people to Oklahoma barn quilt trails. She already knows of over 200 barn quilts in Oklahoma. For instance, the Top of Oklahoma trail through Blackwell features 50 quilts—one for each of the 50 states and the Northwest Passage Trail through Stevens County offers 25 barn quilts that can be located using an online map available at http://www.visitduncan.org/attractions/2017-barn-quilt-trail/
In Ellis County, a quilt trail featuring about 150 squares runs through Watonga, Ceiling, Vici, Woodward, Shattuck, Laverne and Buffalo. Many properties displaying quilt blocks on barns, porches and fences are served by Northwestern Electric Cooperative.
Donald Ray and Judy Jenkins have a barn quilt square on their property 8 miles north of Shattuck on HWY 283. Because the siding on their barn made it difficult to hang their quilt square, they decided to mount it on posts and it has become a tourist attraction because drivers stop to take pictures.
“I think the barn quilt trail is a good thing,” Jenkins said. “It increases tourism. Anything that will bring economy out here helps our rural towns. Some churches give tours. It creates enthusiasm and maybe people will want to make one for themselves.”
Latta echoed Jenkins’ enthusiasm for tourism.
“When I saw those first barn quilts, I fell in love with the whole concept,” Latta said. “I’ve been driving the idea for two years to bring people into our rural community. Barn quilts can bring people to shop in our stores, eat in our cafes and learn about our festivals. That’s the win-win situation that I saw. Not only does it bring beauty and art to our rural community, it brings heritage.”
Vernon and Anita Peck (above) in front of their decorated barn. Anita Peck chose the pattern and colors and volunteers Recia Garcia and Rhonda DeVor painted the block. Courtesy photo
Recia Garcia who is retired from the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service lives in Woodward. She said she also has a heart for simulating the rural economy.
“The great thing about a quilt trail is that it’s something that’s affordable, achievable, and sustainable,” Garcia said.
Garcia showed Rural Electric Cooperative members Vernon and Anita Peck a quilt pattern that Anita Peck said she “fell in love with right away”; now they have a mariner’s compass quilt block bedecked with hues of pink, blue, and yellow on their hay shed a mile north of Vici.
“We’re tickled to death to have a quilt square on our hay shed,” Anita Peck said.
Garcia pointed out that the word “bonanza” means unexpected good fortune.
“Lynda and I and a few others feel like the quilt trail can be our bonanza. If we get enough of them up, people will go out of their way to come see them.”
Latta and Garcia are organizing a Barn Quilt Bonanza set for June 14-15 at the City Hall in Vici. The free event will feature barn quilt painting lessons, contests, and activities for people of all ages promoting barn quilts in Oklahoma.