2016 Gathering

2016 National Quilt Trail Gathering
Greeneville, TN

      Thank you to all of you who joined us and contributed in this 4-day event.  We had representatives form across the country and on up in to Canada (for a full listing see 'Keep In Touch'). The 2016 Gathering was organized by the Appalachian RC&D Council's Emily Bidgood and Rachel Wheeler, AmeriCorps VISTA. The volunteer Greeneville Hosting committee started meeting a year before the event and was instrumental in pulling the community together to make the event welcoming and well organized. Thank you committee for your volunteer efforts! Tammy Kinser (Greeneville-Greene County Tourism), Vera Ann Myers (Myers Farm), Linnie Greene, Amy Saxonmeyer, Gwyn Southerland, Beverly Selmeski (Main Street Tours), Ann Birdwell and Star Mays (Still Hollow Farm), and Patricia Bohon (General Morgan Inn).

What were we up to for 4 days? See Schedule here.

3 Minutes of Fame

Imagine hearing stories from Alabama, Ontario, Oregon, Nebraska and 10 more states....about about how individual people like you and me wanted to make a difference so they started a Quilt Trail in their own community. And WOW! What follows is inspirational. All Quilt Trails in attendance were given 3 minutes to present the highlights of their own Quilt Trails. See Keep in Touch for the full list of attending Quilt Trails and how to find their projects.
"Pieced Together" Documentary World Premiere

Using grassroots support, Julianne Donofrio directed Pieced Together, the first documentary film about the American Quilt Trail. It tells the story of Donna Sue Groves, a breast cancer survivor who changed the American landscape by creating the barn quilt trail and founded a national folk art movement. Donofrio is a Peabody Award-winning producer and veteran of ABC News, and is a freelance journalist in New York.  Pieced Together is her first documentary feature. 

Julianne herself brought the World Premiere to us at the historic Capitol Theatre in downtown Greeneville, TN.  We feasted on local deserts and were serenaded by local musician Lee Bidgood on the viola before taking our seats.  The documentary is stunning!  The audience laughed together and cried together.  Donna Sue Groves is an amazing, strong, and humble woman.  Julianne has produced something masterful. If you are a Quilt Trail enthusiast, or just love a good story, this is a must see!

Keynote Speakers

*Merikay Waldvogel, "Documenting Tennessee Quilt Stories"
Merikay Waldvogel is a Knoxville-based folk life preservationist, historian, lecture and author. She is internationally respected as a key player in the late 20th century quilt history revival. Her books include Quilts of TennesseeSouthern Quilts, and Soft Covers for Hard Times. These are regarding as key works on mid-20th century quilts and quilt-making.  She has dedicated her career to documenting quilt stories.  She walked us through how to do quilt pattern research at The Quilt Index.

*Patricia Mink, "Fibers Art and Modern Quilting"    

From Artspace 4 Show
Mink is an internationally renowned fibers artist and was recently featured in the PBS documentary, "Soul's Journey: Inside the Creative Process," she is a professor at East Tennessee State University.  Her work encompasses both contemporary and traditional quilting as she utilizes a broad approach in her technique.  Her lecture coincided with a showing of her work "Fragments, Remnants, and Scraps" at Artspace 4 Gallery.



*Elizabeth Ellis, Telling Your Story Workshop: 

Here are Rachel's Notes from Elizabeth's Workshop

Elizabeth Ellis is known for her poignant honesty, and her down home wisdom.  During her workshop she delivered just that, honesty.  She made it very clear that when she went online to research our quilt trails, she found the stories associated with Quilt Trails had HDD: humor deficit disorder.  She has quilt stories of her own and knows we can do better.  She challenges us to dig deeper, fins out narrative, and make the stories worth telling, reading, and sharing.

The Quilt Trail, as all of us enthusiasts know, is also a story trail.  The colorful folk art might be what draws us in, but the stories are why we keep coming back.  The stories are also a selling point.  We want people to drive our trails, visit our farms and landmarks, and keep coming back. 

To sum it up, we need to tap into that same creative side that has led us to a part of a public folk art movement, and use it to tell the stories behind the art.  

Fundraising and Sustainability Roundtable

The following notes are from an open discussion group during the Gathering, moderated by June and Carole Pearson of the Western North Carolina Quilt Trail. 
Community Engagement = Sustainability: Create partnerships within the community.  Schools, businesses, churches, quilt guilds, Arts, and clubs are your biggest assets.  Survey the community, get them involved, and ask others what they would like to see develop. How will the Trail serve the community?

How to Get Funding: Again, create partnerships to meet your costs for start up materials and for marketing (plaques, maps, website development, road signs).
List of funding sources from Quilt Trails:
Handmade America, a non-profit arts organization.
County and City Convention and Visitors Bureaus
Rotary Clubs
Local Nonprofits, partner with a 501c3 for fiscal sponsorship   
Local Foundation Grants
Teaching Workshops:  Host 2x2 Barn Quilt Painting Classes and charge $
U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Grants
State Tourism Boards
State Arts Commissions, folk arts division, and rural development division.
County Development Corps.
Quilt Guilds, partner for a fundraiser or ask for $ donations
Fees from Businesses that host a quilt block
Barn Owner Partnerships
Go Fund Me as an example Crowd Sourcing Site
Ag. Businesses, Farm Credit, Coops, ag businesses can see the benefit of sponsoring a rural farm tourism project.
  • Use Social Media (Face Book etc.)
  • Rack cards or Maps located in public places and rest areas (Discussion that many people love the big maps but they have to be updated and are expensive, whereas a rack card gets the word out efficiently).
  • Printable maps that can be downloaded from a web site
  • Partnering with a Convention & Visitors Bureau to put Quilt Trail info on their website too
  • Yard/road signs in front of all barns with the Quilt Trail logo
  • Downtown Quilt Trail aluminum plaques (the northeast Tennessee uses these, 11"x14" and are only $10 to make a full color one).
  • Have your Quilt Trail put on Events....see ideas below....
Events Tried by Quilt Trails:
  • Motorcycle Rallies/Poker Runs, usually coordinated with a Convention or Visitors Bureau
  • Bus Tours
  • Paint Your Own Workshop Classes that charge a fee
  • Open House on the Quilt Trail day, special events coordinated at the sites and farms along the Quilt Trail so visitors get to tour the Trail and meet farmers, see quilts. A map or a passport is their guide for the day and they can collect stamps for a prize.
  • Vendors Booth at Craft Fairs selling quilt blocks and other associated merchandise
  • Merchandise sold through stores, craft fairs.
  • Quilt Turning/Story Telling, partner with history museum or quilt guilds to put on a Bed Turning to showcase special antique quilts and their family stories.

Quilt Turning and Farm Dinner at Still Hollow Century Farm 

This magical summer evening  included many of our favorite things here in Northeast Tennessee; good food, good music, great company, quilts, and storytelling!  Hosted by the Greeneville/Greene County Quilt Trail at Still Hollow Farm, the event featured a traditional Bed Turning with quilts, storytellers from our local trail, mountain music, and barbeque. Quilt Historian, Merikay Waldvogel joined us, offering further insight into some of Greene County's oldest quilts. THANK YOU to the many volunteers that decorated, brought quilts, and served guests.

Thanks to a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, we were able to record the stories making this the first in a series of a new Northeast TN Story Booth project.  Stay tuned and you too can hear these wonderful stories highlighting families, quilts, and history.

Quilt Barns Motor Coach Tour

Visiting the Embree Farm

The chartered Premier Motorcoach bus tour, led by Roy Settle (founder of the northeast Tennessee quilt trail in 2004), Vera Ann Myers (Myers Farm), Emily Bidgood and Rachel Wheeler, showcased a number of stops allowing opportunity to meet quilt barn owners and shop local goods. Here is our route:
  1. HillSide Farm, Shellie Hankins-Brown. Shellie met us near her farm, at her family's cemetary, and when we pulled up she had decorated the fence with quilts. Thank you Shellie for telling your family's story.
  2. Rural Resources, Sally Causey, Director. Rural Resources is a working farm that full-time teaches young people farming and life skills. Thank you Sally for sharing the story of the Dobson family who donated the farm for this vital community need.
  3. drive by Saults Farm, American Flag barn
  4. Historic Embree House & Farm, Patrick Stern and his family, including grand-dauthers. Brought rich history to life, telling the story of the farm life the 5-panelled quilt block does. 
  5. Tennessee Quilts Shop: Hosted lunch for us, catered by Boone Street Market, in their upstairs Galley. MANY THANKS GO TO THIS KEY SPONSOR and the wonderful gracious ladies who own and work in the store
  6. Homestead Farm, Sarah Walters. Despite the heat of the day, the Walters farm was a cool spot amidst their historic preserved spring and cabin. Rich history and lovely hospitality.
  7. drive bys, Bond Farm, Wincrest Farm, Lady Barn. 
  8.  Myers Pumpkin Patch and Farm, Vera Ann Myers and her son Ethan Myers. Myers Pumpkin Patch is a local favorite where you can easily spend an entire day listening to stories and enjoying the view. Nestled on 500 rolling acres in Greene County, TN, Myers Farm offers visitors the chance to enjoy all 4 seasons on the farm. But they do Fall the best. Enjoy seasonal farm goods, a huge selection of gourds and pumpkins and East Tennessee's first corn maze.

The  2016 National Quilt Trail Gathering was hosted by the Appalachian RC&D Council along with volunteers and supporters of the Northeast Tennessee Quilt Trail. The Appalachian RC&D Council is 501(c) (3) non-profit organization chartered in 1994 as a volunteer-based agency.  We current have a 20 member Board of trustees from each of the six Northeast Tennessee counties we serve: Carter, Sullivan, Washington, Greene, Johnson, and Unicoi.  Our mission is to conserve natural resources and improve rural economies through community leadership and enhanced educational opportunities.  We work tirelessly to preserve our heritage, promote local growers/producers and protect the lands of past generations so that future generations may be able to enjoy the natural wonders our region has to offer.  We are proud supporters of the American Quilt Trail Movement!

Appalachian RC&D Council
3211 N Roan St.
Johnson City, TN 37601

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