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Franklin launches barn quilt trail

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Franklin County Barn Quilt Trail

A barn quilt square hung on the A & A Market on Callaway Road welcomes shoppers.

It’s official: Franklin County’s Barn Quilt Square Trail has been launched. A brochure featuring a map to the 95 squares that are displayed throughout the county was released last month. The brochure, which can be accessed online, also features a listing of eight different suggested routes to view the squares.

A barn quilt square is a large piece of wood painted to look like a quilt or quilt block and usually hung on a barn, garage, house or building.

Interest in Franklin County’s trail began in June 2008 when Pat Jones and Libby Bondurant went to Roan Mountain, Tennessee.

“We started noticing beautiful squares on all sorts of buildings and we questioned what they were and were told they were a part of a Barn Quilt Trail,” Jones said. “We started trying to figure how we could get a trail going in Franklin County and from there we started talking to different people. It’s been a work in progress for 10 years.”

Tammy Knicks of Callaway is the artist of two squares on the trail. She found out about barn quilt squares from a booth Bondurant had at the Franklin County Agricultural Fair. She continued her interest with two fellow teachers from the high school by attending a workshop led by Carol Haynes, the family and consumer science extension agent for Franklin County.

“Making a square does not require artistic talent,” Knicks added.

The Knicks family has goats so it’s only fitting that one of Knicks’ displayed squares is of a goat, complete with a “K” on the goat.

Haynes says she has taught at least five workshops including ones at the Sontag Community Center, churches and the American Legion Hall on Tanyard.

“They all brought different talents to the table,” Haynes said of her students.

One of those students was Mark Hatcher. He has a square entitled “Cow Seasons” on display at Homestead Creamery.

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Hatcher has painted more than 40 squares either two or four feet wide. He has made a business out of selling the squares. Prices depend on the pattern and colors. He said one lady from New York bought eight squares.

For Hatcher, the most rewarding thing about being involved with barn quilt squares is the vital part it plays in preserving local culture.

“My grandmother was a quilter and my mom does some, too,” Hatcher said. “Quilts were not only for decoration, but survival for some people in earlier times.”

Some of the patterns can get very intricate and it is a time-consuming process. Hatcher’s advice for someone considering making a barn quilt square is to start with a simple pattern and use no more than three colors.

On the trail are a number of places where viewers can not only tour, but also eat and shop.

A couple of rural businesses that are drawing quilt square-hunting visitors are A & A Market and its neighbor, Toft Cottage Weavery in downtown Callaway.

Haynes says the trail is a great way to promote Franklin County and bring tourists. She says her office has people coming in and calling to find out about the trail.

“People are finding treasures they didn’t know existed in Franklin County,” Haynes said.

Trail brochures can be found at the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office at 90 East Court Street in Rocky Mount as well as at the library. They can be found online on the Franklin County Barn Quilt Trail Facebook page.

Haynes said anyone interested in making squares and attending a workshop can call her office at 540-483-5161.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension will be narrating a trail tour on Oct. 5. Lunch is included and will be served at the Katherine Grace Manor. Deadline for registration and payment of the $28 fee is Sept. 28. Visit www.PlayFranklinCounty.com for details.

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