Creator of quilt trail hoping to attract tourists

Published 4:12 pm Wednesday, March 10, 2010

James Russell (Rusty) Efferson of Chelsea first noticed “Quilt Trails” while traveling across the U.S. as an insurance adjuster. Trails in Iowa and Pennsylvania, especially, impressed him.

And he is now working to create one in Shelby County.

Efferson said that besides helping to preserve quilt patterns, a Quilt Trail is a good tourist attraction. These trails are created by painting copies of quilt patterns on buildings or large plaques erected on the grounds.

The trails that drew his attention used barns to display patterns. Trail maps — and a website in Iowa — help people follow them.

Efferson pointed out that since Shelby County doesn’t have a lot of barns, but does have a lot of churches, he’s working to create a “Church Quilt Trail,” which also includes historic buildings.

“After all,” he said, “Churches have had a big part through the years in preserving quilt patterns and the art of quilt making. Early churches were popular places for women to gather to make quilts And some churches today still have quilting groups.”

In the early days of our country, he said, new pastors usually received a quilt made by women of the church.

Efferson said he has been working for around three months on the “Shelby County Church Quilt Trail” project. Working with him are his wife Mavis and her sister Pat Burdett.

“The idea of the patterns is to display most of the southern patterns visible on churches as you drive around the county,” he said.

He added that he would like to see a participating church set up a website like the site for the barn quilt trail of Sac County, Iowa.

Efferson said he would like for the Shelby County trail “to be a tourist aid for the county.”

Interested parties may.