Block makers involve children and local communities in county wide project

OSCEOLA COUNTY — The Osceola Quilt Trail will work with area 4-H youth from throughout the county to paint quilt blocks for the Osceola County Fairgrounds in Evart and the Marion Fairgrounds. The eight-foot quilt blocks were granted to the fairgrounds by the OQT. “We are thrilled to be part of the Quilt Trail. The Trail is a great idea to promote our rural area,” said Rebecca Johnson, a member of the Marion Fair Board and 4-H club leader. “I can’t wait to see the design.” Joanne Iler, an OQT volunteer from the Center Lake area, who was responsible for other original designs on the OQT,  has been working on designs for the fairgrounds. Rick Sherman, President of the Osceola County Fairboard, is thrilled for the addition to the fairgrounds. “We’re happy to be included on the Quilt Trail and can’t wait to see the design they come up with,” he said. “The quilt block will add a special attraction to the fairgrounds.” The Osceola Quilt Trail is an all-volunteer non-profit organization devoted to celebrating our rural heritage,  enhancing pride of place, and involving communities in making and enjoying art.  Additionally, the national network of quilt trails is a growing agri-tourism asset, as travelers leave the interstate highways to explore our rural communities on the Trail. The OQT started painting the giant quilt blocks seen on barns, public buildings, businesses and other structures in the county in 2009, and have grown to be the largest quilt trail in Michigan, with 92 blocks.  The quilt blocks make up a driving tour throughout the county. “The fairgrounds are the sites of a lot of memories being made for our 4-H youth - lifetime memories,” said Jake Stieg, 4-H Coordinator for Osceola County. “The quilt blocks, and being involved in painting the blocks, will make these sites all the more memorable and are a great way of  encouraging creativity.” OQT volunteer, Cindy Bush Cambier agrees. “A significant aspect of the trail is encouraging pride of place in our children and we love involving kids in painting the blocks,” she said. There are hundreds of trails in the country and five in Michigan.  Area businesses with quilt blocks have hosted travelers who came to Osceola County specifically to tour the OQT from as far away as Texas and frequently from Michigan metro areas. Motorcoach tour companies have arranged for step-on guides to accompany bus tours of the Trail for the last two years. “The Osceola Quilt Trail Board of Directors unanimously agreed to grant the blocks to the fairgrounds,” said Elsie Vredenburg, Coordinator of the OQT. “We are particularily interested in involving children in this project, knowing that they will have a reason to point to these quilt blocks in the future, and say they were a part of this contribution to their community.”