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Meredith Holt, Published October 25 2012

North Dakota unveils first ‘quilt trail’

Michigan, N.D. - What’s believed to be North Dakota’s first organized “quilt trail” will be unveiled this weekend in northeastern Nelson County.

Fourteen residents banded together in this small town about 100 miles northwest of Fargo to create wooden “quilt blocks” to mount outside on their barns or homes.

The project, inspired by a quilt trail in Iowa, is meant to highlight the buildings and promote the area’s agriculture industry.

“Highway 35 goes right through town,” said Maria Vasichek, one of the organizers. “We want to promote ag tourism, but also, we want to promote our town.”

A free map of the self-guided driving tour will be available starting today at Michigan businesses.

The map includes locations and directions, information about the barns, buildings and businesses, and explanations of the blocks.

With names like “Mariner’s Compass Star,” “Prairie Rose” and “Cancer Ribbon,” each block is different, and some have special meaning.

The “Swiss Star” block on a farm shop at 44th Street Northeast was chosen to honor the owners’ long-lasting Swiss friendships.

Deb Narum’s block, “My Stained Glass,” was inspired by a stained-glass piece she has hanging in her kitchen window.

“I’m a quilter myself, so I looked through all kinds of quilt books, and I couldn’t come up with something I really liked,” she said.

Almost all the blocks are 8 feet by 8 feet; two of the blocks are 4 feet by 4 feet because the buildings weren’t large enough to accommodate the larger size.

The blocks are made with MDO plywood, a heavy-duty material with a smooth surface on the front and back, and exterior house paint.

“It’s very heavy, very durable,” Vasichek said of the plywood.

Trim is placed along the top of the blocks to prevent snow from harming the material, and brackets are mounted on the back.

Grand Forks-based Nodak Electric Cooperative donated a boom truck and workers to help hang the blocks ahead of this weekend.

The barn quilts may eventually need to be touched up, but Vasichek said they should weather well.

“How long will they stay in place? Forever,” she said with a laugh.

Quilt trail coincides with ‘Treasures on Highway 2’

The quilt trail’s debut coincides with “Treasures on Highway 2,” sponsored by Nettiques in Petersburg; Heritage Arts Gallery & Gifts in Michigan; and Elaine’s House of Dreams in Lakota.

Visitors can enter a drawing for a gift basket filled with items from all three businesses, including some quilt-related items.

“They’re going to have some special little things in that gift basket,” Vasichek said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590