What: Barn Quilt Trail – An evening with author Suzi Parron
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 28
Where: Elkhart Public Library, 300 S. Second St.
A colorful barn quilt doesn’t just happen along a dusty country road, and Suzi Parron is all about hunting down the stories behind those works of art.
In words and photos taken over a decade, Parron has captured this slice of Americana in two published works. On June 28, she’ll visit Elkhart Public Library to talk about her travels on the Barn Quilt Trail.
“Some are so visually stunning. I’ve literally seen thousands of barn quilts, and I still get knocked over by it,” Parron says. “Most of them are going to have a story, whether it’s a family quilt honoring a grandmother or great-grandmother or a community project everyone worked together to make.”
As a former high school teacher with a master’s degree in English, Parron says she always felt she’d write a book someday. Traveling through Kentucky about a decade ago, she stopped to ask about a particular design she saw and the homeowner’s pride inspired her to find out more.
No books had been written about barn quilt art or history. As luck would have it. Parron discovered Ohio University was looking to support the research, “an amazing coalescence of things at one time,” she says.
She wrote her first book during summer break and stolen weekends during the school year. Life hasn’t been the same since.
Parron lives in an RV, traveling the country with her husband. She’s not currently working on a book, as the speaking stops and craft sessions at quilters’ guilds, libraries and community centers keep her busy. She’ll have nearly 100 events this year, and she’s currently booked through 2018.
Along the way, she’s found people and communities connecting over quilt designs. She’s visited Elkhart on her travels, and took pleasure in seeing the Quilt Gardens on display throughout the county which, this year, celebrate their 10th anniversary.
“I find those gardens to be very similarly related to barn quilts because they’re about community,” Parron says. “People are inspired to create, and it’s a wonderful way to very visibly and publicly honor your heritage. There aren’t too many opportunities to do that nowadays.”
During Parron’s one-hour presentation, which begins at 6:30 p.m. June 28, at the downtown Elkhart library, she’ll describe the stories she’s heard about people from California to Alabama. The library stop includes a book signing, as well.
(This story was originally published in The Hart, a weekly publication of the Goshen News.)