Sac County Barn Quilts
Here’s a good excuse for a drive in the country on a nice fall day: The Sac County Barn Quilts.
Driving in Sac County (north and west of Des Moines at the intersection of U.S. 20 and U.S. 71), you can view 55 quilt blocks mounted on historic barns and corncribs.
The project began in 2005, and maps were printed a year later. (You can find a map at www.barnquilts.com.) Most of the colorful, painted quilt blocks are 8 ft x 8 ft. A group of Sac City area quilters chose the quilt patterns based on the pattern’s agriculture-related name or heritage. Students, 4-H members, and other youth and adult volunteers painted all of the quilt blocks.
I drove for about two hours in Sac County this morning, and I found 16 of the barn quilts. I used the map for reference, but it would be just as easy to drive on any paved, numbered highway (U.S., state, or county) in Sac County and keep your eyes open for the barn quilt signs at the end of the driveways. They’re easy to spot, and each sign tells you the name of the particular quilt pattern featured on the adjacent barn. The quilt blocks have fun names, like “Pig’s Tail”and “Double Windmill.”
I focused my drive mainly in the eastern portion of the county. Sac County isn’t one of those cute Iowa counties with wineries and quaint small towns. It’s a hard-core agricultural county, with miles and miles of farm fields and an untold number of animal confinement facilities. Everywhere I stopped in Sac County, I could smell the hog confinements, even if I couldn’t see them.
Sac City is the county seat, and other towns include Auburn, Early, Lake View, Nemaha, Odebolt, and Wall Lake, plus a few other tiny farm towns. The total population of the county is just 10,350, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Judging from the Romney for President and King for Congress signs, every one of those 10,000 residents is going to vote Republican.
Highlights of the county include Black Hawk State Park (near Lake View) and the 33-mile Sauk Rail Trail. Also, apparently Sac City houses the World’s Largest Popcorn Ball. I’m sorry I missed it. And Wall Lake is the birthplace of singer Andy Williams.
But back to the barn quilts: There’s no easy way to find all 55, at least not that I can tell. It’s not a linear path, nor a circular one. You’d just have to drive down pretty much every hard-surface road in the county. I was happy with the 16 I found, so I called it good.