A Pattern of Rejuvenation

Carpenter’s Wheel shines bright on a High Country barn.

There’s no shortage of reasons to take a drive in North Carolina’s High Country in the thick of spring, but administrators at Beech Mountain Visitor Center, helped by a grant from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, recently added further incentive with their resurrection of the Avery County Quilt Trail. Created last decade by some 18 individual artists and groups, the brightly painted squares, typically seen on the sides of old barns or other outbuildings, depict heritage quilt patterns intrinsic to Appalachian culture; in fact, some of the 55 “barn quilts” show patterns that are particular to the local families whose properties they adorn. One of the largest concentrations of barn quilts in the country, the route faded after the 2012 dissolution of the local arts council that started it. “The potential for a great self-guided trail was still there, though,” according to Kate Gavenus, director of tourism and economic development for the town of Beech Mountain. “Because all the old digital information was lost, we just drove around the county taking pictures and recording locations.” (Some paintings are no longer there, and new sites may be added to the list.) A few weeks ago, Beech Mountain Visitor Center released a new brochure and map (designed by Armando Garcia), launched a new Avery County Quilt Trail website (by Alexander Gavenus) — and reported a great rush of interest: “We’ve already had a dozen map requests today,” Kate noted the day after the project was announced.

For more information, see averycountyquilttrail.com and beechmtn.com.

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