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County’s barn quilts connecting with the world

By Staff | Feb 12, 2010

Sue Peyton with the Sac County Barn Quilt Committee said that www.barnquilts.com recently added a number of new features, including more than 50 new quilt block photographs, barn quilt slideshows, information on the Sac County Quilt-A-Fair and more.

SAC CITY – As new barn quilts continue to pop up across Sac County, the Sac County Barn Quilt Committee decided it was time to revamp the group’s Web site, which has helped spread the story of the barn quilts far beyond rural Iowa.

“I’ve been very surprised and pleased by how the barn quilts have caught on, not just in Sac County, but across the country,” said Sue Peyton, who volunteers with the Sac County Barn Quilt Committee. “We get questions, comments and requests weekly from people who visit our Web site.”

The site, www.barnquilts.com, which launched in August 2005, has logged more than 2.3 million visits from people interested in Sac County’s barn quilts.

The average visitor views 12 pages per visit, said Peyton, who added that the number of hits on the Web site has steadily increased every year, with just over 868,900 visits in 2009 alone.

Last March, the site caught the attention of celebrity quilter, author and television personality Eleanor Burns from California, who created the popular “Quilt in a Day” program.

The Harvest Star barn quilt on the Harold and Sue Peyton crib between Sac City and Lytton is included on the updated Sac County Barn Quilts Web sites. It also is included in Eleanor Burns' new book, "Quilt Blocks on American Barns."

Burns, who was featured at the Sac County Quilt-A-Fair in September 2009, is showcasing several of Sac County’s barn quilts in her new book, “Quilt Blocks on American Barns.”

User-friendly site offers new features

To make the Web site more useful and easier to navigate, the barn quilt committee worked with John Zeman, of Sac City, this year to add more than 50 new quilt block photographs. All the barn quilts are grouped by communities within Sac County, and each barn quilt has its own page.

While some of the new quilts are displayed on barns, others are located in the various communities of Sac County, and still others are featured on various structures, including homes, garages, sheds and yards.

Some patterns, like Mariner’s Compass, have proven popular with homeowners at Black Hawk Lake, said Peyton, who noted that the barn quilt committee has tallied 130 known barn quilts around Sac County.

The North Star barn quilt on the Wassom farm southeast of Sac City is one of three Sac County barn quilts featured in a new book by Eleanor Burns of California, who discovered Sac County's barn quilts through the Web site www.barnquilts.com.

One of the most exciting changes to the barn quilt Web site is that visitors can select a number of slide shows to watch, Peyton added. “If visitors want to see an overview of the Sac County barn quilts, for example, they can view a slideshow of 64 barn quilts, complete with quilt pattern name, in about four minutes. They can also watch the production of a barn quilt, from start to finish.”

Another major addition to the barn quilt Web site is a section devoted to the Sac County Quilt-A-Fair. This event, which was held in 2007 and again in 2009, evolved from the barn quilt project as another means to increase tourism in Sac County and draw attention to the area’s barn quilts.

Quilt-A-Fair attendance grew from more than 1,000 people in 2007 to more than 1,500 guests in 2009, who came from more than 20 states and at least 49 Iowa counties. The Web site now includes a brief overview of the Quilt-A-Fair, the dates for 2011 Quilt-A-Fair, a large slide show gallery, and nearly 200 photos, Peyton said.

Visitors praise Web site, barn quilts

The new additions to the Web site build on previous updates to site, which included the addition of Google Earth maps. 4-H members from northwest Iowa traveled to various Sac County barn quilt sites and identified the unique GPS locator numbers for these barn quilts. These locators were added to the Web site, which allows visitors to see the actual farm site for each barn quilt through the Google Earth map.

The Web site continues to generate a great deal of positive feedback. “Your site is great!” wrote Theresa Theisen of New Boston, Mich., who is painting her first barn quilt. “This has also inspired me to attempt to start a similar effort in New Boston.”

Leisa Bailey, a South Dakota resident whose roots are in Manson, was inspired to make a donation to the Barn Quilts of Sac County after viewing the Web site.

“My son lives in Phoenix, Ariz., and pretty much has everything in life he needs at his current age. Giving Christmas gifts has become increasingly more difficult each year.

“I thought it would be a refreshing change to donate funds in his name to a worthy cause. My son spent many summers with his grandparents on their Iowa farm, and I feel that even though he no longer frequents the area, it would probably make him feel good to know the gift of money was sent someplace close to the heart.”

Sac County wants to hear from you

The Sac County Barn Quilt Committee encourages Web site visitors to share their comments about the revamped site by e-mailing barnquilts@gmail.com.

“Also, we may have missed some of the quilt blocks that are on private properties around Sac County,” Peyton said. “If people will let me know the location of any quilts that are missing from the Web site, I’ll stop by during the spring or summer to take a photograph and see that it gets added to the site in the next update.”

For more information, contact Peyton at (712) 662-3507 or speyton@prairieinet.net.

Contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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