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Quilts commemorate 200 years for LeRoy

The countryside surrounding the Genesee County village of LeRoy, about a 45 minute drive from Buffalo, is very picturesque to begin with. Add a barn quilt project to the mix and you have a great reason to take a drive in the country. More than 100 wooden barn quilts, measuring 8 feet by 8 feet or 4 feet by 4 feet, dot LeRoy and the surrounding area.

The Barn Quilts of LeRoy began as a bicentennial project for the town in 2011, when the first quilt, “Jell-O Jigglers” was painted. The LeRoy Historical Society hoped to have a couple of dozen quilts painted in time for the town’s bicentennial celebration in 2012. However, the response from the people of LeRoy was even more enthusiastic than expected; by the time the event took place, more than 70 quilts had been erected.

Recently, my daughter and I took a Sunday drive to check out the quilts, armed with a map we printed from the project’s website (www.leroybarnquilt.org). Note that some of these quilts are along busy roads, so you may not have the opportunity to pull over to safely view them. Also, many are on private residences, so please don’t trespass.

Our first stop was the Jell-O Gallery/LeRoy Historical Society, where you can get maps to the Barn Quilt Trail. LeRoy’s claim to fame is that Jell-O was invented here. Dubbed America’s most famous dessert, the jiggly confection was manufactured in LeRoy until the mid-1960s. Naturally the barn quilt “Jell-O Jigglers” is located by the entrance to the Jell-O Gallery. Be sure to take some time to peruse this museum, as it has exhibits on the dessert’s history, as well as memorabilia and a gift shop. The adjacent LeRoy house also has exhibits on area history.

The docents at the gallery mentioned that one barn quilt we should be sure to see is the one titled “Pride of LeRoy,” which is located on the Public Works Building on Ashbury Road. An estimated 200 residents were involved in painting this design, which commemorates the 200 years of the town’s existence. Also on the other end of the same building is a quilt titled “Amelia Earhart,” as there is a small airfield located nearby.

After leaving the museum we decided to first look for quilts along the Village Trail, one of four separate driving trails featured on the map. I have to admit it was like a treasure hunt trying to find some of the quilts. While some are quite obvious, others are located on garages set back from the road or on the sides of houses or on fences. We noticed that one of them had actually been moved. “Mariner’s Compass,” once located on the Creekside Inn, is now located on a very picturesque barn on West Main Road in Stafford, the town just west of LeRoy.

By now we were craving a small snack; this was actually a good thing, as the best place to view the “I’m Lovin’ It” barn quilt, which is on the side of McDonald’s, is from the drive-thru. Naturally the golden arches have been incorporated into the design.

We then decided to look for quilts along the East Trail, which has the largest number of quilts (29) of the four trails. Nearly a dozen of these are located along Ashbury Road. Some of our favorites along this road included “Stained Glass,” located on the second story of a barn between two windows. We also liked “Emperor Tulip,” also on a barn, which features a white background with red tulips and green leaves. There are four quilts located on the side of one very large barn at 9743 Ashbury Road, which is a very impressive sight.

One of the more colorful quilts on the East Trail, “Corn & Beans,” done in hues of yellow, red and green, is located on the side of Crnkovick Farm Market on Main Road. Nearby, Magnolia Antiques, also on Main Road, has two quilts: “Plumes,” which is reminiscent of a pinwheel, and “Baskets,” which features four colorful baskets.

The North Trail features several quilts along Lake Road (Route 19), including “Railroad Crossing,” located on the side of Crocker’s Ace Hardware, and “Carpenter’s Square,” a simple L-shaped design on the side of a small barn.

The West Trail has a number of quilts located on and just off Route 19 South. There are also a couple along West Main Road, including “Friendship Circle,” a pretty blue, white and green design on the side of a barn and the previously mentioned “Mariner’s Compass,” also located on West Main Road.

Time did not permit us to see all the quilts, as we only spent a few hours in the area; you’d probably have to spend the whole day here to view and appreciate all the barn quilts. Even though this was a bicentennial project for 2012, people in LeRoy enjoyed it so much that they are still adding quilts to the project today.