Sunfest to expand with barn quilt trail in 2019



Photo by Amber McIver-Traywick – Visitors to the 2018 Berthoud Sunfest view the quilts on display in Fickel Park during the annual quilt show and craft sale.

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

Starting next year Berthoud Sunfest will feature not only traditional fabric quilts but wood quilts along a trail through town.

To do this the Berthoud Area Chamber of Commerce will seek applicants at this year’s Sunfest on June 16. Sunfest (Home of the Outdoor Quilt Show) combines an outdoor quilt show and sale with artisan vendors at Fickel Park, as a way to promote the arts in Berthoud. The event is in its sixth year.

“We wanted to do something to expand Sunfest,” said Deanne Mulvihill, executive director of the Berthoud Chamber, organizer of Sunfest. “Our mission as the Berthoud chamber is to keep the Berthoud community strong and vibrant, and we do that through our events. Our goal is to bring more people to Berthoud, and when we get them here, we want to keep them here longer.”

During Sunfest attendees can view more than 100 quilts hanging from clotheslines; and stop at art vendors selling metalwork, woodwork, pottery, ceramics, jewelry, household items and clothing. The quilt patterns are old-school or modern. They are hand or machine sewed and range in size from wall hangings to king-size bedspreads.

The quilts will be judged for the People’s Choice awards, first to third places.

In 2019 Sunfest will add a driving tour of wood quilts on more than just barns; but include homes, businesses, fences and mailboxes. The quilts will be painted with traditional or individually-designed patterns using simple geometric shapes like squares, rectangles and triangles.

“The heritage of Berthoud is agricultural, so this makes sense to us to honor the heritage of Berthoud,” Mulvihill said.

Historically, barn quilts served as folk art to decorate barns, typically placed on the peak toward the roofline, and certain patterns were used during Civil War times for wayfinding purposes.

The tradition fell away but was revived again in the early 2000s with several barn quilts mapped together for quilt trails, originating in Adams County, Ohio, to invite visitors to travel the countryside using a map of the quilt locations. Now there are more than 7,000 quilts that are part of trails in 48 states and Canada.

In Colorado trails already are in the southwest part of the state and in Morgan County in the northeast, as well as Greeley, Lyons and Boulder County.

“What our barn quilt trail will do is connect the communities that already do this, that already have a trail,” Mulvihill said.

The Berthoud trail will start and end in Berthoud — the goal is to launch the trail with 20 quilts and add quilts each year, Mulvihill said. She hopes to have the first set of quilts on display by mid-October and to continue hanging them on a quarterly basis. The chamber also plans to create a passport book to collect stamps or stickers for each trail stop to turn in for a prize.

The idea for the trail came about when Karen Murray Boston, a Berthoud Chamber ambassador and member of the Sunfest and quilt committees, introduced barn quilts to the chamber as a way to attract tourism.

“It brings people to your town or city,” Murray Boston said. “It’s a great way to document the history of the area as well as for families to be able to document their history. … It’s a fun way to lead visitors through your town or area, at the same time talking about the heritage of the area.”

To implement the idea the chamber received a grant from the Colorado Tourism Office’s Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism Craft (CRAFT) Studio 101 in the spring. The grant covers the cost of a peer mentor to help with the logistics of the event and to develop marketing and application materials. CRAFT Studio 101 offers tourism education and training for rural areas to build tourism into an economic development strategy.

“We’re celebrating the fact Berthoud is smack in the middle of one of Colorado’s largest agritourism areas,” said Angela Hollingsworth, Cultural, Heritage & Agritourism Mentor Program (CHAMP) volunteer for the Colorado Tourism Office and peer mentor to the Berthoud Chamber. “These barn quilts are fabulous artistic accessories to the agricultural heritage of the area. … Each piece is meant to represent each individual’s particular heritage or story. … That’s what we’re trying to do is bring communities together to share their stories.”

Those interested in participating in the trail will need to fill out an application form and pick up a barn quilt kit, which are one, two or three feet square and range in cost from $35 to $120, though the prices may change. The chamber also hopes to organize community painting nights for participants to paint their quilts.

“You don’t have to be an artist to do this,” Mulvihill said.

Barn quilters can design their own quilts or pick from one of the chamber’s designs, but the designs and colors will need to receive approval. The chamber hopes to provide 12 different designs after conducting research of what is not trademarked or copyrighted. Those making their own designs can select something that represents their family heritage or describes their business.

The chamber will have application forms and kits available at the office, 428 Mountain Ave., at other Berthoud events, such as Berthoud Oktoberfest on Oct. 6, and online at www

Quilters who want to display their fabric quilts in Sunfest will be charged a $5 fee for each quilt up to $20 for four or more quilts. The event, which serves as a fundraiser for the chamber, is free to the public. This year, it will be June 16, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Fickel Park, 700 Mountain Ave.

“It’s incredible watching 100 quilts blow in the breeze,” Mulvihill said.

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