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Alcona Quilt Trail

Photo credit to Gary Wojcik

When you finish a project called "Stitching Together A Community," any quilter would tell you, you tie the final knots and tidy up the edges. The Alcona County Quilt Trail Project group has done just that, entering their third season of existence.

The group's original goal was to have two of the 8 foot by 8 foot wooden quilt blocks mounted on locations in each township in order to include the entire county along the trail. They've exceeded the original goal, placing at least two in each township for a total of 28 quilt blocks. A map of the trail showing the location of each block has been printed and is available at Hollyhock Quilt Shop and other area businesses.

To bind the edges of Michigan's first and longest quilt trail, the group is in the process of creating replicas of the Alcona County Quilt Block, "Fish, Forests and Fun" to be placed at the county line in each of three directions, making individuals entering the county aware of the trail.

The trail project got its start in 2008, when an economic development class from Michigan State University researched and presented information on quilt trails throughout the country to a group of interested Alcona County residents. Since that time, groups have begun projects in Osceola County, currently with 10 blocks and in the Cadillac, Mich. area, where three blocks went up last fall.

The Alcona group was fortunate, president Cindi VanHurk said, to receive two grants for the project. Those included a $1,500 grant from the National Quilting Association for materials and a grant of more than 96 colors of paint from Behr Process Corporation, of California.

She noted that the group also received yearly donations from the East Shore Art Guild currently operating a gallery in the Harbortown Marketplace on Main Street. "That collaboration has helped so much", she said, adding that one artist from the guild is in the process of producing greeting cards featuring paintings of each of the quilt blocks.

VanHurk is currently at work on the last of six miniature fabric reproductions of the 28 existing blocks to complete the display at Hollyhock Quilt Shoppe. Kits to recreate each of the blocks are also available, with all proceeds going to the Quilt Trail Project and donations are still being accepted. Officers of the Quilt Trail Committee include VanHurk, vice president Bill Thompson, secretary Bonnie Wichtner-Zoia and treasurer Denise Hartz.

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