Arkansas Quilt Trails
The Arkansas Quilt Trail began when two Stone County residents, Renee and Glenda, decided to start a Stone County Quilt Trail. Next, the neighboring counties of Searcy, Van Buren, and Baxter counties joined the effort, as well as Perry County, just two counties away.
A barn quilt is a large piece of wood that is painted to look like a quilt block. Even though the name implies that an entire quilt is painted onto the wood, it really is only a single quilt block. The majority of barn quilts are comprised of simple geometric shapes, like squares, rectangles, and triangles. They usually are painted in solid colors, though every now and then, you’ll come across one that has been painted to look like printed fabric. The simplicity in shape and the vibrancy of solid colors make these blocks easily seen from afar. The two most popular sizes are 8’x8’ and 4’x4’. The Arkansas Quilt Trail has adopted the 4×4 size. After they are painted, these blocks are hung on the exterior of a barn, house, garage, or other building.
This idea is hundreds of years old but gained in popularity in the early 2000s, with the first quilt trail originating in Ohio in 2001. A series of quilt block locations results in a quilt trail that people can drive to get a close view of each block, and of course, a photograph.
The mission of Arkansas Quilt Trails includes preserving local and regional history, which is done by including a story with each quilt block. The stories are found at ArkansasQuiltTrails.com, a website that offers a page for each county’s trail.
To become an official participant of Arkansas Quilt Trails, a county must have at least 12 approved quilt blocks displayed. Van Buren County currently has 14 on display with two pending in Fairfield Bay. Other counties working toward the first 12 blocks include Newton, Pike, Boone, Cleburne, Sebastian, Yell, Washington, and Craighead counties.
There are quilt trails in 43 states and three in Canada, so the next time you’re planning a driving vacation, check the Internet for the trails of interest to you. Plus, be sure to visit ArkansasQuiltTrails.com often, as new quilt blocks are regularly added to the website.