Guided tour to show Ashe County barn quilts

Wil Petty Staff Writer

September 5, 2013

Barn quilts are one of many items that drive tourists to Ashe County.

Now, thanks to the Ashe County Arts Council, locals will drive the tourists to see the barns up close.

“We have created six different driving tours out in the community to look at the barn quilts,” said Rebecca Williams, program director of the Ashe County Arts Council. “This year we decided we wanted to do our own tour.”

The Arts Council has teamed with the Ashe Transit Authority, so they can drive the tourists around the county.

Williams said each bus will have a tour guide that will give the history of the quilts, who painted the quilts and the names of designs.

While tours will stop for photo opportunities, people will not be going inside the barns or leaving the bus.

The barn quilts came to Ashe County in 2005 as part of a grant from Handmade in America, a North Carolina-based nonprofit which promotes craft and culture for economic development. Two other Western North Carolina counties, Yancey and Mitchell, received the grant as well.

“Several years ago the Arts Council wanted to continue its public arts program by putting art out in the community,” Williams said.

The Arts Council then paired those interested in having the items with the local artists who were designing the barn quilts.

“(The quilts) are basically painted on wood and installed on the barn itself,” Williams said.

Originally, the organization quickly put up between 12 and 15 quilts in the area. Now, Williams said there are over 100 barn quilts in Ashe County, and that people from out of town will often come to the county to buy them.

“It has taken a life of its own,” she said. “We now have businesses that create the barn quilts where folks can purchase them.”

Dates for the tour are Sept. 6-7 and Oct. 11-12. Fridays will have one tour while Saturdays will host two.

Tour tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children. All tours will depart from the Ashe County Arts Center.

For tour reservations call the Arts Council at 336-846-2787.