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Group working to start a county barn quilt trail

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 3:11 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 3:14 p.m. CDT
(BCR photo/Goldie Currie)
Valerie Jensen of Tiskilwa (left) and Laurie Bonucci of Princeton stand near the barn quilt displays at the Bureau County Fairgrounds. The two women have gotten together with six others, including Tammie Peebles, Shellee Monier and Deb Erickson, all of Walnut, Sandy Carpenter of Ohio, and Tracy Hannon and Nancy Huber, both of Tiskilwa, to help initiate a barn quilt tour in Bureau County.
(Photo contributed)
Pictured is Valerie Jensen's barn quilt, which hangs on her barn in Tiskilwa. Barn quilts can be described as "art in the country." Traditionally, barn quilts consist of a painted quilt pattern on an eight-by-eight foot piece of medium density overlay board.

PRINCETON – Eight Bureau County women have come together with the same enthusiasm to implement a barn quilt trail throughout the county.

Barn quilts are traditionally made by painting a quilt pattern on an 8-by-8-foot medium density overlay (MDO) board, which is then hung up on a barn.

Laurie Bonucci of Princeton describes it as “art in the country.”

The love and appreciation of barn quilts has been popping up over the United State since 2001. Today, about 35 states and hundreds of counties show off various styles of barn quilts.

Bureau County’s newly formed barn quilt group, which has been dubbed Barn Quilts of Bureau County, has been inspired by Kankakee County’s trail, which consists of 50 barn quilts. Although the woman don’t necessarily want to copy the same trail guidelines in Kankakee County, they have used the idea as a prototype to spark ideas.

Bonucci explained tourists can start out the trail in Kankakee County by stopping by the tourism center to pick up a trail map. A tourist then drives through the county to see and enjoy each piece of art.

Bonucci sees it as a simple way to boost tourism in the county.

“We got to thinking we have all these historic barns all over the county, we think we live in a beautiful place, agritourism is a big thing and we’re trying to stimulate that,” she said. “There’s just all sorts of ways this could grow.”

Valerie Jensen of Tiskilwa, who is a proud owner of a barn quilt, explained the Bureau County group is working on making partnerships with fellow county organizations that could help jumpstart the trail project. A few organizations that were named off included: Bureau County Farm Bureau, University of Illinois Extension Office, Bureau County Tourism and Bureau County Quilt Guild.

“Everyone is excited about the idea. We just have to get the ball rolling and representatives have to meet with us and see how we’re going to integrate our ideas and work together,” she said.

There are still a lot of details that need to be ironed out, before a trail is pinpointed, however Jensen is hoping by next summer, Bureau County’s countryside will consist of 12 new barn quilts.

Bonucci explained any barn owners in the county can take part in the trail. Whether someone wants to try painting their own quilt, or hire someone to paint a quilt or just offer a space on a barn would help get the idea off the ground.

“The thing barn quilts all have in common are that they become a community effort, a larger community,” Bonucci said.

For those interested in learning more about the Barn Quilts of Bureau County or to explore the barn quilt idea, there are smaller versions of barn quilts currently on display at the Bureau County Fairgrounds. Following the fair, the displays will be hung on the historical museum building at the fairgrounds. The group also welcomes people to like their Facebook page, Barn Quilts of Bureau County.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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