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New York's Falls to the Finger Lakes
New York's Falls to the Finger Lakes

Past and present discoveries along the LeRoy Barn Quilt Trail

Following a barn quilt trail is a delightful exercise in rural exploration and absorbing history. A trail produces unexpected discoveries as participants travel through the intimate village streets and lush countryside searching for creative icons scattered throughout.

Since 2012, the bucolic Town of LeRoy has been the location of the LeRoy Barn Quilt Trail. The trail hosts over 100 barn quilts installed on barns, homes, fences, and even inside of the town’s public locations. People can explore the trail by vehicle, bus, or in some cases, walking around the village.

To understand barn quilts, you have to go back three centuries to Europe. Back in the day, families would gather around and create a large quilt made of scraps of fabric. These quilts were functional because of their warmth but also became an object of artistic expression. Immigrants eventually brought this art form with them to the United States.

On the LeRoy Barn Quilt Trail, each quilt weaves together a story about the family or regional heritage. The symbols and colors create a history marker of sorts. They project a powerful narrative about the people who live at each location.

Due to the outdoor weather elements, the quilts are not made from fabric - but are made out of wood. The quilts tend to range in size from 2’x2’ to 8’x8’. Since the creation of the trail in LeRoy, more quilts have been added, and have come to represent the pride shared by the community – a town with a rich architectural heritage and a vision for the future that will guarantee the quality of life for future generations.

The LeRoy Barn Quilt Trail is organized into four sections – the Village Trail, the North Trail, the East Trail, and the West Trail. Most of the trails start in the village, before fanning out to the subtle, rolling hills of the LeRoy countryside. 

Each quilt tells a story.

The local history to be discovered out on the trail is surprisingly magical. The Star of England #8 quilt (Village Trail) affixed to a barn represents the English heritage of the Kettle family and was painted by Bill Kettle in honor of his parents who came to the United States. The earth tone colors of the Indian Maize #44 quilt (North Trail) pay tribute to the history of the Oatka Rail and the importance of corn to the early settlers and the Indigenous people who lived there. Affixed up high on a red barn, the Stained Glass #84 quilt (East Trail) is an homage to a local artist. Designed to depict a stained-glass window, and in memory of Joe Doemling, a talented and creative stained-glass artist, this barn quilt was painted by his nephew John in 2011. Those are just three stories derived from over 100 barn quilts - can you imagine what else you will learn along the way?

The Barn Quilt Trail of LeRoy is the perfect introduction to the wonderful Village of LeRoy.

No visit to LeRoy would be complete without a visit to the JELL-O Gallery Museum. JELL-O was created in LeRoy in 1897 and the museum is dedicated to all things about “America’s Most Famous Desert.” An insider tip: Visit the small transportation exhibit in the basement of the museum. It’s pretty neat. History buffs would also enjoy a visit to the Historic LeRoy House. This mansion-turned-museum is the ultimate in stepping back in time. One of the favorite visitor spots in the mansion is the original 1820 open-hearth kitchen. You won’t find any microwaves or fancy coffee makers here.

The Village of LeRoy has the quintessential Main Street USA feel, with shops and restaurants lining the main street going through town. Farmer’s Creekside Tavern & Inn overlooks the picturesque Oatka Creek in the heart of the village. Enjoy food and cocktails on the creek side patio or inside the 200-year-old tavern. The place also has a few beautifully appointed boutique hotel rooms. Also in the middle of town, BBQ lovers enjoy the Smokin’ Eagle BBQ & Brew. This place serves some down-home slow-smoked goodness and is a regional destination for live music.

Nestled away in the village, Attic to Basement Estate Sales and Clean Outs, LLC has a storefront that features “everything you never knew you needed.” The store is full of antiques, furniture, jewelry, collectibles and oddities. It is also becoming a destination for lovers of vinyl record albums. Just a bit outside of town, April’s Finds Antiques & Collectibles features items that will make any home feel unique. This shop’s collection is ever-changing, thus no two visits to the place are alike.

A great way to explore the Barn Quilt Trail of LeRoy is with a group of people. The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce will gladly help provide information for bus tours or a step-on guide that will take visitors on a relaxing adventure that can be enjoyed by all ages and group sizes.

Let the LeRoy Barn Quilt Trail be your passport to history and exploration. All you need to do is get in a car or bus and let the locals tell their stories through their creative quilts.

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