Barn quilt

A barn quilt adorns the side of a red barn in Madison County.

For the past few years there has been discussion of expanding the Blue Ridge Barn Quilt Tour into Madison County. Now an Etlan woman and her two daughters are making that dream a reality.

Nan Coppedge and her daughters, Kaci Daniel and Laura De Boer, are working with the Madison County Department of Economic Development and Tourism to create a barn quilt trail much like the popular ones in Highland County and neighboring Greene County.

Coppedge became fascinated with barn quilts after her husband gave her one as a gift. Barn quilts, a type of folk art that has been around for several generations, are large squares of wood painted to look like a quilt block. Usually only a single block is painted and then displayed outside on a house, barn or fence. Most barn quilts are made up of simple geometric shapes like squares, rectangles and triangles and painted in solid colors. The combination of simple shapes and bright colors make them visible from a distance. The folk-art form had a reboot in popularity in the early 2000s and an Ohio group formed the first quilt trail in 2001.

Since then, barn quilt trails have been established throughout the United States including several in Virginia. The Blue Ridge Barn Quilt Trail in Greene County is currently the largest in the state with more than 70 quilts displayed on homes, barns, garages, fences and mailboxes.

Tracey Gardner, director of economic development and tourism for Madison County, is enthusiastic about the venture and believes it will help to showcase the scenic beauty of the area. The tourism office will publish and distribute a brochure with a map and address of the quilts on the tour, similar to Greene County’s Blue Ridge Barn Quilt Tour.

“We will have the brochures here at the visitors center and at the local breweries and wineries,” said Gardner. “Tourism is an important part of the local economy and this gives visitors one more thing to do while they’re here.”

Coppedge is busy lining up participants and so far, has 10 barn quilts committed to participating. She is looking to get 20 before having the brochure published. The brochure will have a photo of the barn quilt and a map showing the location. Owners of the barn quilts must register and give written permission allowing their quilt to be included in the brochure.

“I believe we will get there quickly,” said Coppedge. “There are five or six in Etlan and a couple on Willis Rd. and Bill Gentry has one on his office. We need to get the ones that are visible from the road. I believe there are a few more out there as so many were generated when Vyvyan Rundgren did the workshops here.”

Coppedge encourages any county residents with barn quilts to participate in the project and emphasized there are options for the less artistically inclined that wish to be involved. Both the Art Center of Greene County and Brightwood Barn Quilts create barn quilts for clients throughout the region. Both Coppedge and Gardner are hoping to have the first brochure completed sometime in January 2020.

For more information about the Madison County Barn Quilt Trail contact Nan Coppedge at nanbcoppedge@gmail.com or contact the Madison County Tourism Office at (540) 948-7500 extension 169. Registration forms are available at the Madison County Tourism office located at 110 N. Main St. or online at www.madison-va.com.

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