If you find yourself driving through Cache Valley, keep an eye out for the quilted murals decorating barns.
Originally a Midwestern tradition, barn quilting is the painting of barns, chicken coops, garages or front porches to look like a quilted pattern. What’s known as the Barn Quilt Trail was started in 2001 by Donna Sue Groves of Ohio. The patterns and art of these quilts are picked to honor loved ones or represent the hard work and values of farms.
With many eager to create quilts of their own, the trail has spread throughout the United States and some parts of Canada.
Allyson Burton has been hard at work spreading the quilt trail throughout Utah and up into Idaho. Currently the trail consists of 18 barn quilts, and three more are expected to be added within the next week. More are in the works to expand through Box Elder county and the Cub River area.
“I’ve always kind of known about barn quilts. I’ve seen them around and created one of my own when I bought land in Wellsville,” Burton said. It wasn’t until she took a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that she realized other people were doing them too.
“Next to the barn was a sign that said ‘First place in the Star Valley Barn Quilt Trail event.’ I googled it, found a map, and went to visit the places listed. It was the coolest thing.”
When Burton came back to Cache Valley, she discovered there wasn’t a trail in Utah and became determined to create her own. Through the power of social media, Burton was able to gather a good list of barn quilts throughout the valley and nearby areas.
“Most of the people on the trail I’ve met so far are quilters or come from quilting backgrounds, so the patterns they choose come from something in their love of quilting or something representing their quilting background. It’s different for everyone,” Burton said.
While many patterns are selected to represent families in some way, some patterns are gifted while others are created simply because they “look cool.” Burton chose to make her quilt mural look like stained glass. Every design is different and unique in its own way, which makes the trail even more special.
“Barn quilt trails are really fun local tourism activities. It’s like geocaching or treasure hunting for the agriculture community,” Burton said.
Annalise Christensen is a historian at the American West Heritage Center who loves barn quilts. She got involved when she noticed Burton — her next door neighbor — had one of her own displayed.
“I got so excited about the trail and wanted to get one made. I ended up finishing it super fast. It’s a really fun and interesting history,” Christensen said. She added that barn quilts were originally intended as “hex” signs to ward off evil brought over from Germany to Pennsylvania.
“Barn quilt trails bring everyone in the community together and are cool because you’re creating something everyone can enjoy,” said Christensen.
Burton also hosts workshops for those who are interested in creating barn quilts of their own. Currently 25 people are listed in attendance.