Highland County Barn Quilt Trail Expanded

This is Chris Swecker, Executive Director, of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce.

So, we’re excited to introduce a completely revised and expanded version of our popular Highland County Barn Quilt Trail brochure.   The brochure now has over fifty barn quilts for travelers to explore.  Our Barn Quilt Trail was actually the first in Virginia and it began in 2011 with just thirteen barn quilts in the original brochure and we’ve had several updates since then and this is the most recent update.  And we’re really excited to bring that to the public, so they can go around and have a self-guided leisurely tour through Highland County and check out these beautiful works of art.

For those that don’t know, barn quilts are colorful painted wooden squares and diamonds that hang on barns, outbuildings and homes.  These unique works of art are the merger of traditional roles on the farm blending the customs of quilting bees together with outdoor barn work into one beautiful combination.  They’re just really neat to see.  Once you spot one, then you start to see them all around.

The designs on the quilts come from all different sources.  Some are actually traditional designs that would have been put on a quilt or some are just something completely new and a design that just looked interesting to the owner of the barn quilt.

So within the new brochure we included some of these stories behind the barn quilts and one of my personal favorites is the Colaw Apple.  And the story behind that is Conley Colaw, who actually has the record here in Highland for most barn quilts on one barn in the Blue Grass area, but this one is a diamond shaped barn quilt that depicts an apple tree on his farm.  And this lone apple tree on his farm is thought to grow a famed lost apple variety, it’s known as the Taliaferro.   President Thomas Jefferson cared for an orchard of Taliaferro trees at Monticello in Charlottesville, but that orchard is now gone.  And Jefferson considered those apples to yield the finest cider he ever knew.  And that’s the reasoning behind this barn quilt.

You can pick up the new brochure at local businesses and at the Highland County Chamber of Commerce’s office, which is at the Highland Center in Monterey, and it will be at the visitor’s center when that is up and running full time again.  And there is a corresponding website at www.highlandcounty.org.   There you will get to see the brochure in full and we even have barn quilt design templates there where you can print off an outline of four of the different barn quilts that are on the trail.  They are coloring quilts that you can print out for children or anyone of any age.

So the Barn Quilt Trail, it really takes a community to bring this together and we are just so appreciative to all those that allowed us to use their barn quilts on the trail and also to the Virginia Tourism Corporation for their WanderLove grant to help us print these new brochures.

Go check out all the tradition that’s uniquely displayed here in Highland.


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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