After months of planning and painting, partners in the “Barn Quilts of Sampson County” project were ready to reveal to the public a few of the first barn quilts that will be hung in the county Tuesday night during the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event at the Exposition Center.
As the stage curtains in Prestage Hall were drawn open, attendees applauded as the the first barn quilt — the project’s signature one — was unveiled. Designed by Ann Holland, the signature pattern features four barns to represent the four local entities who have come together to create the public art project — the Sampson County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), the Sampson Arts Council, the Sampson County History Museum, and the Sampson County Cooperative Extension — as well as a millstone, a reference to the “Milling Around” public art piece in downtown Clinton and the millstones that are on display at the history museum and the Extension office.
Although only one signature barn quilt was shown, there are two 8 x 8 barn quilts featuring the signature design which will be hung at the Sampson County Cooperative Extension/Livestock Arena, explained Ray Jordan, executive director of the Exposition Center and chairman of the CVB board, adding that these two barn quilts will hang in honor of George Upton for his many contributions to the county.
“I can’t imagine anyone here who doesn’t know him,” said Jordan. “He worked for Sampson County at the Cooperative Extension for 51 years. He was a 4-H agent, a livestock agent, Extension director…a lot of what he did was for tourism but no one thought of it as tourism.”
Jordan detailed how Upton was greatly involved in creating the Sampson County Expo — “it was a trade show, farm show, community event, food event, county fair, all in one” — which ran about 10 years as well as his being “very instrumental” in the creation of the then Clinton-Sampson Civic Center, now Heritage Hall.
Filled with emotion, Jordan shared that Upton was unable to be present for the barn quilt reveal and dedidication Tuesday night due to health issues; Extension director Eileen Coite stepped in to acknowledge the dedication of the barn quilts on Upton’s behalf.
“I know he’ll be so honored,” she said, adding that many events will be going on at the Extension this year including Community Ag Day as well as various centennial-centered celebrations and that the barn quilts will be a special addition to those events. “I hope he’ll be able to come out and see the quilts and all the hard work that’s been put in.”
A smaller, specially-made barn quilt featuring the “Corn and Beans” pattern was also revealed and will be given to the Uptons to hang on a barn or building on their own farm.
The project’s partners also unveiled a third barn quilt featuring the “Log Cabin” pattern and presented it to David and Jeannie King of the Sampson County History Museum. This barn quilt, one of the first seven sponsored by the CVB, will be hung soon at the museum. Although not shown Tuesday night, others in this first round of Sampson barn quilts will be hung at the Expo Center, the Sampson Arts Council, and the Joseph Royal Farm.
When it was officially launched last month, Vickie Crane, CVB director, shared that the barn quilt project will have “economic, social and cultural value for Sampson County.”
“Barns quilts attract visitors from across the state and nation, bringing tourists and tourists’ dollars to our county. Our ultimate goal is to have these unique, colorful pieces on buildings visible from the highway throughout Sampson County and create our own barn quilt trail, complete with a map providing the locations so people can tour around the county to see the different colors and patterns,” she explained. “It’s a project that will generate tourism activity for our local communities and I could not be a happier about the marketing possibilities.”
Jordan agreed, noting in early February that “my whole take on it, from the standpoint of the CVB, is that our whole goal is to develop opportunities, events, sights, and projects that people want to come and see. This is really one of the first projects where we are working to create a destination so to speak, something that folks will want to travel to see, and then while they’re here, visit other things like the history museum, shops, restaurants.”
“As people are traveling through the county they’ll get to see the barn quilts and it will encourage people to get off the main roads and see the county from a different perspective, one that they might not have had an opportunity or reason to see it from before,” added Crane. “It gives people a reason to linger longer.”
For more information about the barn quilt project, please contact Vickie Crane at 910-592-2557 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.