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The stars shine brighter in Halifax County, VA

The Halifax County Barn Quilt Trail: Our Community Quilt

You may see one painted on the side of a barn while driving picturesque country roads in Halifax County. You might see one proudly displayed on the side of a stately home in one of our historic districts. You may even see one while walking downtown districts of the county when shopping. What are they? Barn Quilt pieces.

Weaving a quilt that blankets our community, the Halifax County Barn Quilt Trail highlights the talents of our local artists, farmers, and business owners. This trail is a perfect way to discover the culture of Halifax County, as many pieces are reflective of the artist’s personality or property’s past, often holding deeper meaning than meets the eye. Each piece is unique, varying in size, color, and pattern. They can be found on fences, hanging from mailboxes, in murals, and of course, on the sides of barns. They’re also found at several popular local attractions, such as Springfield DistilleryHunting Creek Vineyards,Berry Hill ResortStaunton River State Park, and the South Boston/Halifax County Visitor Center.

The Halifax County Barn Quilt Trail started in 2017. An interest group met to discuss the possibility of starting a trail in Halifax County. From there, meetings moved to Elmo Grocery in the Alton community. That small group of dedicated women established the trail. The first piece added to the trail, Monkey Wrench, is still displayed at the Elmo Grocery. Now, nearly five years later, the trail has more than 100 pieces across the county’s many communities. The effort of these individuals demonstrates the power of grassroots projects, and how a community’s members can come together to make their county a more beautiful place.

Barn Quilts have a long history, dating back 300 years. Immigrants from central Europe (specifically Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands) brought this art form when they arrived from overseas. In Europe, early barn quilts have been referred to as “painted prayers,” as assorted designs and colors were believed to protect livestock from sickness, spirits, and witchcraft. By the time immigrants from central Europe brought the art form to the United States, pieces were mostly for decorative purposes. Most believe barn painting began in Pennsylvania with immigrants, before spreading to New England and the Midwest. In the United States, pieces became useful for travelers when searching for family or crossroads, as townspeople would often reference patterns and pieces to look for while giving directions. They were also used as markers for the Underground Railroad. Though many of us now use our GPS or maps to navigate the county, one can still imagine the local barn quilts being used to find a particular farm, family, business, or even freedom.

There are several ways to enjoy the barn quilt trail here in Halifax County. Exploring the trail by car is the quickest way to see pieces, surrounding farmland, and the county altogether. Setting out on a drive also merges two classic bits of Americana: road trips and quilting. Alternatively, several pieces in and around Downtown Halifax have been placed on a 1.8-mile walking trail, beginning, and ending at the Halifax Market Place. Viewing pieces this way provides a perfect opportunity to browse stores on Main Street, pop into a café for lunch, and see the historic homes of Mountain Road; all while viewing pieces on the walking trail. The third and final way to view the pieces is virtually, via an online map. This online map has pictures of each piece, along with information such as inspiration for the piece, history of the location, or the artist’s role in the community. You can even use the online map to scout out pieces or locations you’d like to see in person! Pro Tip: Google Map users can open the virtual tour in-app for tap and go directions to all the pieces around the county.

Barn Quilt Trail Day is returning to it’s traditional format in 2024, once again featuring hosts and activities at select venues. On Saturday, April 20, visitors can enjoy specials, sales, and activities at the following locations:

  • Pack House Café: Hot Country Breakfast served all day | 121 N Main St, Halifax | 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Downtown South Boston Farmers Market: Maps and trail information available from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Spring Fling in Downtown South Boston | 300 Broad St, South Boston | 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Halifax Market Place: Maps and trail information, barn quilt displays, food and restrooms available, Earth Day activities | 209 S Main St, Halifax | 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Halifax County Visitor Center: Maps and trail information, up to 50% off select merchandise, lavender lemonade, and restrooms available | 1180 Bill Tuck Hwy, South Boston | 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Halifax Public Library: Free barn quilt bookmarks, Earth Day coloring pages, drawing for 2 barn quilt books | 177 S Main St, Halifax | 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Terrapin Springs Farm: Family Quilt Display, Farm Exhibit | 1099 Aarons Creek Rd, Virgilina | 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Waller Brothers Farm: Snacks and restrooms available | 3083 Golden Leaf Rd, Nathalie | 10 a.m. – Noon
  • Oak Grove Bed and Breakfast: Lemonade & Mint Tea; restrooms available | 1245 Cluster Springs Rd, South Boston | 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Southern Plenty Café: Cajun Shrimp and Grits food special | 206 Main St, South Boston | 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Hunting Creek Vineyards: Sangria, 10% off purchase of wine | 2000 Addie Williams Tr, Clover | 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Springfield Distillery: 20% off merchandise, free tour with tasting | 9040 River Rd, Halifax | Noon – 6 p.m.

Interested in exploring the barn quilt trail? You can find maps at the Halifax County Visitor Center or the Halifax Market Place. Alternatively, you can find the virtual tour here: link. Visitors often travel the trail in fall to view foliage, or in spring during the annual Barn Quilt Trail Day. Stop by sometime and see our county’s amazing community quilt.

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