Priors blaze barn quilt trail ahead of IPM 2017 - Jan. 19. 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Tim Prior of Brussels is leading by example in this fall’s International Plowing Match (IPM) barn quilt competition, part of the beautification competition.
The owner of Brussels Agri-Services and The Cowboy Loft has put up $750 for the county’s best barn quilt and $250 for the fan favourite in a competition encouraging residents to spruce up their barns with a quilt.
A barn quilt is a large piece of wood, usually eight feet squared, that is decoratively painted and placed on the side of a barn. The quilts created for the IPM this fall will become part of the Ontario Barn Quilt Trail, a network of barn quilts throughout the province that can be found on barnquilttrails.ca.
Prior worked with Cheryl Gardiner of Gardiner’s Gate Hand-Crafted Barn Quilts of Ilderton for his design, which depicts the Canadian flag, four maple leaves depicting the fall season and a mural of a Wagyu cow, the type of animal Prior has on his home farm just east of Brussels.
In an interview with The Citizen, Prior says that he first encountered a barn quilt when he was in the Glencoe area, travelling for work. As he drove around the community, he saw many more (Glencoe is one of the areas with many quilts on the Ontario Barn Quilt Trail), so he asked someone and he was told all about barn quilts and the trail.
He immediately thought that barn quilts could be a way to encourage Huron County, Brussels and Walton residents to spruce up their farms ahead of the 2017 IPM.
Not only could barn quilts improve the look of farms ahead of the historic match, Prior thought, but they could be a lasting reminder of the match, and beautification that would improve the look of the landscape for many years after the match.
“We are very excited about this initiative, as these barn quilts will last for years after the match is complete,” said IPM Chair Jacquie Bishop. “When you see these barn quilts hanging three, four, five years down the road, you will think of the memories made at IPM 2017.”
When Prior and his wife Donna first brought the concept to the IPM committee, they found enthusiasm for the idea and it was immediately incorporated into the beautification competition, which is being spearheaded by Deb Falconer.
The Priors have been supporting the IPM for years. It was Brussels Agri-Services and The Cowboy Loft that first put up the prize money when the call was put out for logos for the IPM several years ago.
Prior said he feels it’s important to support local initiatives like this, especially something as big as the IPM, because Huron County sponsorship is definitely more important when a big event rolls around.
He contacted Gardiner, who had exhibited and offered up her services at last year’s Huron County Plowing Match held in Morris-Turnberry, and Prior said working with Gardiner was a joy.
Prior had a rough idea of what he wanted his quilt to look like, and Gardiner worked her magic, he said.
In previous articles, Gardiner has described the wooden barn quilts as “rural eye candy” that can take on any identity the customer wants.
Many of the projects Gardiner has taken on over the years are an homage to a car company or farm machinery company of which the customer is fond. However, for example, with Prior’s project, the inspiration was much more patriotic and symbolic of Prior’s chosen profession.
Gardiner worked for 30 years in the commercial sign-painting business before shifting her skill-set to the design of barn quilts. Since then, she has created projects for customers all over North America and beyond.
Prior first contacted Gardiner in November with his idea. The two worked back and forth and in just over a week, it was complete.
Gardiner plans to take orders throughout the spring and summer, saying that she will likely set a cut-off for IPM orders of mid-June to ensure that she can fill all orders.
A typical eight foot squared barn quilt would cost between $500 and $800, she said, depending on the level of work involved.
While the standard barn quilt measures eight feet squared, Gardiner says that many customers are interested in smaller quilts, measuring two feet squared for their house or porch.
To find Gardiner, search Gardiner’s Gate Custom Hand-Crafted Barn Quilts on Facebook, or call them at 519-461-9344.
For more information on the Ontario Barn Quilt Trail, visit its website at barnquilttrails.ca and for more information about the IPM 2017 beautification competition, contact Deb Falconer, chair of the 2017 IPM Beautification Committee at 519-525-6525..