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A colorful heritage
June Jaunt 2015 theme will feature barn quilts
new vlc barn quilt 1 Pat Mitchell El Dorado001
These barn quilts, featured on the Kansas Flint Hills Quilt Trial website, can be found at Butler, Chase and Dickinson counties. The theme for June Jaunt 2015 is Heritage, and each of the eight cities along the route, including Ellinwood and Great Bend, will feature a different barn quilt prominently displayed in the center of activity. - photo by Courtesy photos

Communities along the route for June Jaunt will feature popular art to draw visitors along the tour from Tribune to Ellinwood. It’s part of this year’s “heritage” theme.
According to City of Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes, each of the eight communities along the route will design a barn quilt representing their communities to display prominently at the locations activities will be taking place. June Jaunt promotional colors yellow, golden yellow, dark blue, black and red will be incorporated in the designs.  
In last Thursday’s Ellinwood Leader,  the chamber announced a contest to design Ellinwood’s barn quilt which will include a wheat theme.  Jacque Isern, Ellinwood Chamber of Commerce director, said the finished quilt would be on display either on the side of the Historic Wolf Hotel or at Wolf Park during the three-day event.   
Great Bend has adopted a variation of the Kansas Sunflower quilt block design for its barn quilt. The 8-foot by 8-foot square has been primed and will soon be completed.  Other communities taking part will include Rush Center, Ness City, Dighton, Scott City, Leoti and Tribune.

Barn quilts draw tourism
Communities around the state are using barn quilts to add beauty and interest to their locals.  
Connie Larson of Kansas Flint Hills Barn Quilt Trail led a speed learning session at the We Kan Conference last Wednesday in Salina.  The conference brought together volunteers and community advocates from around the state with a common goal of “reframing” the way Kansans think of their state.  Marci Penner, director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, pointed out that Kansans are humble by nature, and are quick to discount the truly wonderful aspects of living in Kansas. Among these are art and tradition.
“Barn quilts are the newest art form promoting rural pride and agritourism,” Larson said.  
First, it is important to note that barn quilts are not really quilts.  They are painted representations of quilt block patterns.  Second, they aren’t always on barns. Larson gave plenty of examples of barn quilts adorning all sorts of structures, including office buildings, museums, parks, and retail spaces.  The sizes vary from 8 x 8 feet, 4 x 4 feet, and 2 x 2 feet.  The size of quilt is largely determined by the size of the building it will hang on, and the distance a viewer will need to be in order to see it.

Flint Hills trail growing quickly
The Flint Hills trail was organized in 2013, and since then has added 185 barn quilts to its multi-county trail. Suzi Parron, author of “The American Quilt Trail,” visited the Flint Hills trail for a book signing in 2013, while gathering information for her second book. She is expected to return in 2016 for another book signing, Larson said.
County economic development groups have found that people plan tours of the area intentionally stopping at each barn quilt. A map of the quilts currently on the trail is listed on the organization’s website,, with the caveat that private property must be respected, and stopping on highways to take photos must be done with the utmost caution.  
The trail has been a great draw bringing history, heritage and quilting enthusiasts to spend the day traveling along the trail, stopping in the many towns along the way, Larson said. And interest is high. The trail anticipates reaching at least 200 barn quilts by the end of April, and  will continue to fill in the blank spaces.  
“Barn quilt 101” painting workshops, where participants learn techniques for using tape to make crisp, straight lines, and how to minimize the ridged paint lines that occur when lines cross, have been held in counties along the trail. Participants leave with a small barn quilt ready to be hung.
Inspiration for patterns come from many places, Larson said. Most are traditional quilt block patterns, but family crests and original designs representing a family farm or business have been popular too.   
Ellinwood will accept entries for the contest until Friday, March 27. A $50 chamber gift certificate will be awarded to the winning designer.