“Let the Quilt Trail be your guide to the beautiful Appalachian mountains and valleys of Northeast Tennessee.”
The first Quilt Trail began in the early 2000’s in Southern Ohio. Ms. Donna Sue Groves was working in community arts when she had the idea of brightening up her mother’s faded gray tobacco barn with a quilt pattern. Her friends encouraged the instinct but soon one barn turned into many barns, and eventually it became a regional tourism project. This spark of an idea has now spread to over 40 states and into Canada, a truly American phenomenon. Our little 6-county Northeast Tennessee section of Quilt Trail is promoted by the Appalachian RC&D Council out of Johnson City, and boasts a family of over 130 quilt sites! These are at www.quilttrail.org
The ARC&D creates coordinated opportunities for people to learn about the importance of arts and agricultural heritage to our lives today. We connect visitors with stories from along the Quilt Trail and promote our local farm and downtown businesses. We rely on many community groups, quilt guilds, local government, and individual donors, to continue the Trail in ways that would make Ms. Groves and her Adams County, Ohio, community proud. Our region hosted the National Gathering in Greeneville of Quilt Trails from across the county in 2016.
In 2017 we launched the Quilt Stories Project — collection and preservation of quilt stories sponsored by the Tennessee Arts Commission, and supported by East TN State University Anthropology Department and many volunteers. This YouTube Story Project of 40 (and growing) audio/slideshow stories brings quilt stories to life for you. You can now view these stories online! Videos produced by Megan Gauck, Rachel Wheeler, Emily Bidgood, with support from Lindsey King and the Tennessee Arts Commission.
To start your journey along the Quilt Trail, see maps and stories at our website, quilttrail.org, and stay in the loop by subscribing to our newsletter. Occasionally we organize a regional Open House or a custom tour along the Trail, so you’ll want to be updated!
“Take a trip back in time, slow down, and discover historic sites, produce stands, pick-your-own, local museums, art galleries, cafes, and other local flavors. It’s fun in every season.”
The tradition of quilting has been carried on for hundreds of years to provide warmth and artistic keepsakes. Until recently, these handcrafted pieces of history have only been valued by individuals within the families but an outgrowth of interest in cultural heritage has created an atmosphere of appreciation for the works of Art fashioned by our ancestors. It is complimented by the work of the hard working farmers of our region that can be seen in the barns and structures used to display the quilt murals. Along with the physical work these handicrafters placed into their quilts and barns, they also contributed a story about themselves; who they were, what kind of life they had and what their personal interests were. These are the stories we are proud to tell and create a visual storybook into the lives of the strong people of Appalachia.