If Lora Partyka didn’t have trouble falling asleep one cold winter night a couple years ago, the Country Barn Quilt Trail in Kendall in Orleans County might not exist. That evening, Lora was flipping through a quilting magazine when she spotted an article about an Iowa town that organized a project putting painted wooden quilt blocks on the sides of barns to draw people to visit that area. Lora, who likes to quilt when not helping run the family farm, thought a project like this would be great to have in Kendall, a small rural town with a population just under 3,000.
“After I read the article I felt we had to do this. My intention was to help Kendall get back on its feet and to get people into town,” said Partyka. She added, “I really love this town, even though I wasn’t born here.”
Partyka got a few friends together and talked about the idea. Coincidentally, one friend was planning a trip that would take her through that town in Iowa, so she stopped there to gather information about how to start the quilt block project. By August 2006, the first wooden quilt block was in place in Kendall; Farmer’s Daughter, displayed at Partyka Farms.
“I chose Farmer’s Daughter because that’s who I am. It honors my parents and grandparents whose family farm is in Niagara County.” Lora is a 5th generation farmer on her father’s side. Lora and husband, Jeff, who have a 400 acre fruit and vegetable farm, began farming in Kendall in 1984.
“What makes this project so special is that people pick out their own designs and colors and then help each other hang the blocks on the barns,” said Partyka. “It’s a personal and community effort. Our local community has really embraced this project and is proud of it. Many people have painted their barns just so they look nice.” She added, “The men really like these things and they want to have them on their barns.”
Currently, there are over thirty barns and other properties with the quilt blocks. However, that number is growing as more and more people in the community want to participate. Each family picks their own design, which has some special significance to that family. Once they decide on a design or theme, they meet with Lora’s team of volunteers. Kathy DeMarco helps people pick out designs and colors; Jan Ferris puts the designs on the boards; Jan’s husband, Brad, cuts the frames the boards fit into; Kathy Kast helps lay out the designs on the boards and helps Lora with the painting.
The blocks are either 4’ x 8’ or 4’ x 4.’ The block owners pay just for supplies, about $180; all the work is done by the volunteers, who have set up shop in one of the greenhouses on Partyka’s farm.
I recently spent a few hours in Kendall touring the quilt trail. Lora took the time out of her busy schedule to show me around; however, the trail is actually a self guided tour. Maps are available at Partyka Farms, which is a great place to begin and end your tour. They have a great selection of in-season produce, including peaches, apples, corn peppers and tomatoes, all grown on their farm, as well as a country gift shop filled with candies, candles, home décor items, jams, honey, baked goods and more. They even have an ice cream parlor. Lora and her volunteers will also do step-on tours by prior arrangement for bus tour groups.
Our first stop was at the Pickett Fence Quilt Shop, which has a 4’ x 4’ quilt block outside called Circling Swallows. Shop owner, Linda Luther, picked this old Amish design because she likes the motion in the design and because it was the first pattern she hand-pieced when she first started quilting. Linda’s shop has a very nice selection of fabrics and quilting supplies and she also offers classes.
As we continued along the trail we passed a design called Constellation. Lora explained that Robert and Trudy Slocum, who live there, like to walk in the early morning and evening, when the stars are out.
While the majority of the barn quilts are in Kendall, with many along Route 237, there are also some in neighboring towns and counties, with some in Barker, Brockport, Albion and Hamlin. Lora mentioned one in particular in Hamlin, called Mother’s Fancy.
The mother, whose 80th birthday was coming up, really liked how the barn quilts looked. So her five adult children got together and had one made for her, they even helped paint it. They put it up on her barn, but covered it up until they had an unveiling ceremony on the mother’s birthday.
Our next stop was at Becky Charland’s Just a Design Floral and Gift Shop, which has a sunflower design quilt block, since sunflowers are part of the shop’s logo. Along with fresh arrangements, this shop has giftware, stuffed animals and more. This shop has the only quilt block that’s not square, since it had to be cut down to fit into the peak of the roof.
Another quilt block along the way is called Circling the Fields, because Kathy and Skip Scroger, who own the barn, have a small airstrip on their property and Skip is a pilot. On a barn behind the parsonage of the Kendall Methodist Church, you’ll find a pattern picked out by Pastor Sarah and Doug Merle, which is aptly named Hosanna.
Bill and Jeanette Behnke’s barn has a design called Railroad Crossing. Some of the buildings on this farm used to be part of the Hojack rail line (closed 1974) and also Bill used to be a conductor for the Kodak Industrial Rail System. The quilt block was a gift to him from his children.
At the Patt farm, you’ll find a design on their barn called Farmer’s Field, which is done in the colors of the harvest. Chuck and Sharon Patt are third generation farmers. As I explained earlier, each block has a special significance to the family that owns it. Joseph’s Coat, on Bob and Sandy Wilson’s farm, is in memory of their son Joseph, who died in 1996 at age 11.
Corn and Beans is an appropriate quilt block for the Kludt Brothers Farm. They are the tenth largest farm in the northeast and they grow close to 10,000 acres of crops, including corn, beans, beets, carrots and cabbage for commercial canners. Heideman Farms has a design called Hole in the Barn Door because the family has a photo of one of their cows sticking its head out of a hole in the barn wall.
There are numerous others along the trail that Lora and I didn’t have time to drive by that day. She added that she is continually adding new barn quilts to the trail as people in the community are so enthusiastic about the project. “I feel we are all here to do something and this project is about bringing the community together, “said Partyka. “The neat thing is that I get to know people in town that I didn’t know before.”
If you go
Maps to the Country Quilt Barn Trail can be found at the following businesses:
Partyka Farms (585-659-9131) 1420 County Line Road (Route 272), Kendall. Open April-November; 9-9 daily.
Pickett Fence Quilt Shop (585-659-2259) 218 County Line Road, Kendall. Open year-round; Tuesday-Saturday 10-4.
Just a Design Floral and Gift Shop (585-659-8289) 2269 Norway Road, Kendall, NY Open Monday-Friday 9-5, Saturday 10-2.
From Niagara County take Route 104 east through Orleans County. Turn left on Route 272, which is on the Orleans/Monroe County line. Partyka Farms is about four miles on the right, right across from Route 18 west.
While driving through in rural Orleans County, you may want to check out some of these other nearby farm markets for seasonal produce and more.
Browns Berry Patch (585-682-5569; www.brownsberrypatch.com) 14264 Roosevelt Highway (NY 18) Waterport. Open April-November. A quilt block called Fruit of the Farm along the Seaway Trail can be found at Brown’s. They have in-season produce as well as a country gift shop and bakery. A cornfield maze and children’s play area is open during fall weekends. A grill, offering hot dogs and hamburgers, is also open on the weekends.
Hurd Orchards (585-638-8838; www.hurdorchards.com) NY 104 and Monroe/Orleans County Line Road, Holley. Open May-December, Wednesday-Sunday 10-6. They have a variety of in-season produce, along with gourmet jams, jellies and baked goods.
Watt Farms Country Market (585-589-8000; www.wattfarms.com ) 3121 Oak Orchard Road, Albion. Open May-December. They have in-season produce and a country gift shop, along with fudge and ice cream. They offer a train ride to their apple orchard.
While there really aren’t any restaurants in Kendall, a good place to eat that’s not too far from the Country Barn Quilt Trail is Tillman’s Village Inn (585-589-9151; www.tillmansvillageinn.com) 14369 Ridge Road (NY 104 at NY 98) Childs. This historic restaurant, in operation since the early 1800’s, is known for steaks, seafood and home-style comfort foods. They are open daily for lunch and dinner.