The Northeast Tennessee Quilt Trail is making plans for an upcoming celebration that will feature open houses at more than 30 of the quilt sites along the trail, as well as a special appearance by Donna Sue Groves, the originator of the concept of the quilt trails.
Emily Bidgood, Project Coordinator with AmeriCorps/VISTA, explained that the Northeast Tennessee Quilt Trail started with the humble intention of embellishing a few farms with color, geometry and storytelling.
Ten years later, the Appalachian RC&D Council is celebrating 100 murals, a national following and a strong network that promotes local agriculture.
Bidgood said the Quilt Trail boosts agricultural tourism, helping farms diversify their income. It also tells how history has woven together families and land and has led to friendships between volunteers and fans of the Quilt Trail.
Bidgood said the Quilt Trail has raised the profile of northeast Tennessee nationally and internationally. For example, a Japanese magazine covered the Quilt Trail phenomenon in 2005.
The anniversary celebration weekend, Friday-Saturday, Oct. 11-12, will kick off with a Farm-to-Table Dinner fundraiser. This special evening will be held on the grounds of the historic Embree House and Farm. This Telford farm’s history dates back to 1791. The evening will present a dinner featuring local farm fare and wine from Northeast Tennessee.
The meal will be prepared by gourmet chefs from Tributary Restaurant & Catering Co. Local pork, apples, pumpkin, greens and more will be featured in the meal, with all ingredients coming from the six-county service region served by the Appalachian Resource Conservation & Development Council.
Attendees can enjoy live music and take tours of the historic home throughout the evening. Attendees can also enjoy wine tastings from vineyards in Northeast Tennessee. The event will also feature a silent auction.
Donna Sue Groves, founder of the original Quilt Trail in Ohio, will give the evening address. Groves and her mother purchased a farm in Ohio in 1989. She brightened up the tobacco barn on the farm by painting a quilt design on its faded facade. Her simple idea sparked a trend that spread across 45 states and two Canadian provinces.
“I had a dream and my friends nurtured that dream with me,” she said.
Groves illuminates stories from the Quilt Trail in the book Barn Quilts and the America Quilt Trail Movement. She will speak more on that movement during her Friday evening talk.
Tickets are available to the Farm-to-Table Dinner on Friday for a suggested donation of $100. All proceeds support RC&D programs to keep the rural economy strong and sustainable.
The Friday evening social will also provide an opportunity to showcase the accomplishments of the Quilt Trail and the Appalachian Resource Conservation & Development Council, which founded and maintains the Quilt Trail. Some recent milestones for the Quilt Trail have included the addition of Cleek Farms as the 110th and latest site to join the Quilt Trail. Cleek Farms will open for its fall season the following weekend. For more information, visit www.cleekfarms.com.
The following day will offer an Open House on the Quilt Trail during which a network of 30 quilt sites will participate in a special regional heritage festival. More than 30 farms and venues in the region will be open for guests to self-tour, meet barn owners and enjoy quilts, refreshments, discounts and demonstrations at a regional heritage festival like no other. A Day Pass to visit all the participating sites, which includes a commemorative Quilt Trail Passport, will be available for a suggested donation of $10.
Advance reservations for this weekend of special events is requested at http://arcd.org/index2.php/registration/
The Council is also planning to introduce the Follow Quilt Trail mobile app, connecting mobile visitors with farms and sites on the Northeast Tennessee Quilt Trail.
“The app is still being approved by Apple,” Bidgood said. “I can say that the app is currently only for iPhone, but we have plans to develop for other Apple devices and Android. iPhone users who want to go mobile with the Quilt Trail can tune into our webpage, www.QuiltTrail.org, or our Follow the Quilt Trail on Facebook.”
After the Council lost its federal funding in 2011, it has been without staff or operating support for programs that promote and strengthen the natural and cultural resources that make Northeast Tennessee unique and vibrant.
“This fundraiser will help us continue to improve our region’s rural economy, conserve farmland and develop markets for local agricultural products,” Bidgood said.
The weekend of events is being sponsored by Tennessee Quilts, Farm Credit Mid-America and First Bank & Trust Ag Credit Division.
For more information on the Northeast Tennessee Quilt Trail and these events, call 979-2581.