Mountain Lifestyle Communities of North Carolina Corporate Sponsorship/Underwriting of The Quilt Trails of Western North Carolina
Our WNC quilt block project is the brainchild of self-professed local quilt “piecer”, Barbara Webster, following the lead of Donna Sue Groves who began a similar work in Adams County, Ohio. The Quilt Trails of Western North Carolina was first launched with beginning funding of $5,000 and support from the Toe River Arts Council, Handmade in America, and the Blue Ridge Heritage Area. In April of 2009 Paul “Bubba” Crutchfield, the previous landowner of what is now known as The Cove at Celo Mountain, brought Barbara Webster together with Mountain Lifestyle Communities of Western North Carolina owners, Bill Ennen and Diane Liemandt-Reimann and her husband, Ron Reimann. The resulting $50,000 Corporate Sponsorship over a 2-year period by MLCNC of the Quilt Trails project has enabled Barbara to make this project a full-time commitment – with all of us and our visitors as lucky recipients. “Quilts have long been symbols of comfort, family, heritage, and community,” Webster says. One of the enduring artistic contributions of the Appalachian Mountain culture has been the beautiful handmade quilts. Now these patterns adorn our byways and highways in the High Country counties of Yancey and Mitchell with plans for expansion into other areas.
These quilt blocks hang on our barns, cabins, and workplaces and tell the story of both the people and their land (one is an extension of the other.) Each owner chooses a quilt pattern that has belonged in her family or that holds special symbolism for the family history. Colors are chosen for the quilt block, and a story is written about the background of the selection to be included in the trail guides. Webster and her husband draft the designs for the blocks, and a team of volunteers builds and paints the quilt squares. The hope is to transition this work from volunteers to a paid workforce to help alleviate the increasing number of unemployed/displaced workers in these Tier 1 and 2 counties of North Carolina. Volunteers and, occasionally, paid help in the area, hang the blocks with a truck and lift from an area business. As of this writing over 140 quilt squares adorn area buildings and they and their stories are entered into our maps and trail guides. Following the guides (available at our Visitor’s Centers and Chambers of Commerce)makes for a perfect day of picnicking as you drive through our beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains to find each quilt square and read its background story. Or you might prefer to join a road rally by horse, motorcycle, or car to “find” your designated quilt squares. It is a beautiful, fun way to celebrate our heritage, land, shared and personal history while enjoying the breathtaking views of these mountains.
Through research, art, and story we reconnect to what our ancestors valued and loved and pass on this mountain lifestyle to the next generations. Unique, beautiful gifts adorned with the various quilt squares, handcrafted by local artisans, can be purchased or special ordered at the Quilt Trails Gift Shop in Burnsville.
For more information on the Quilt Trails, visit http://www.quilttrailswnc.org/