We continue our conference count down with information about something you might see anywhere along your route in the Midwest, barn quilts.
If you’re not from the Midwest, you might well ask just what is a barn quilt? In short, it’s a large plywood tile, painted as a quilt square and hung on the side of a barn (sometimes they paint them directly on the barn, but due to traditional barn battens they tend to look better on a second surface). The idea is too increase rural tourism by combining two things people in the Midwest often already love - barns and quilts. Although some people just hang the barn quilts on their own, most are part of a countywide program. You can just see them driving through the county or there is usually a map available giving you a route to drive to see all of them in a particular county. Some counties choose nice barns only. Some counties hang them on pole buildings or even put them on poles in front of a non-barn building. I even saw one once on the front side of barn where the back half of the structure had already collapsed, so they vary a lot.
I really think this would be an excellent program for the counties with Laura homesites to adopt. So far the only one I know about is Winnishiek County aka home of Burr Oak, Iowa. They started their program last year and there is even a barn quilt on poles outside the Masters Hotel. They need more participants, but kudos to them for starting. I think it would be a great idea for all Laura homesite counties because it would give fans an excuse to see more of the area and get a better feel for what it was like for Laura to live there and they can also be used to promote stops at rural businesses (many of which set up in farmsteads now made unnecessary as larger operations took over the farms). I think Laura fans would really enjoy it. What do you think?
Driving from Iowa City to the Burr Oak/Spring Valley/Pepin area you will see many counties that support these programs. This is just one I pass on the way that was nice and close to the road for a good clear picture. Please do remember that these barn quilts are on private property and take any photos from the road.
Also, they always photograph better if you can get the side of the building in full sun.