The Kentucky Quilt Project - Preserving Kentucky's Historic Tobacco Barns

While on your Kentucky adventures you will be struck by the beauty of the scenic countryside filled with horses, crops, and barns. You will notice that some of the barns are beautifully decorated with large quilt squares. These barns are a part of Kentucky Art Council’s Quilt Trail. This project was started to preserve barns in rural Kentucky. Most of these barns were used for drying tobacco and are no longer used because fewer farms grow tobacco. Howeverthe barns continue to be an important part of Kentucky’s heritage and the Quilt Project is helping to preserve their place in kentucky history. The barns are chosen by different community leaders, like Sue Stivers who is the director of the Economic Development Authority for Columbia, Kentucky’s Chamber of Commerce.

Mrs. Stivers tries to choose barns on back roads, set about five miles apart, to promote tourism in Adair County. The entire Quilt Trail is based on volunteer work and the quilt squares are hung by Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation as a community project. US Congressman, Hal Rogers, issued grant money from Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism (TOURSEKY) to 47 counties, including Adair County, to make the Quilt Trail possible. In Adair County, home of headquarters, volunteers Denise Stewart, Sue Hennigsen, and Ronald Johnson work tirelessly creating the patterns and applying the paint in Hennigsen’s equipment barn.

The trail stretches through the entire state of Kentucky. It was actually started in Adams County, Ohio to honor a farmer’s mother, who was a quilter, and the idea quickly spread to decorate the countryside. So as you explore our great state of Kentucky, take some time to appreciate the heritage and culture that you can see while driving by.


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