Three members of Barn Quilts of Central Minnesota put the first coat of paint on a 4 ft. by 4 ft. barn quilt which will eventually be installed at Don and Dave’s Store. From left are Lisa Kajer, Pam Collins and Mary Noska.FFA students Brenden Thompson and Bekka Paskewitz help Tom Kajer secure the Friendship Star barn quilt to the house.

Colorful barn quilts will decorate area

Goal is to have 25 barn quilts in area by August in 2017

p that took them across across northern North Dakota on Highway 2. When they stopped for gas between Grand Forks and Devils Lake, Lisa Kajer was intrigued by a brochure about an area barn quilt trail. 

As they headed out across Nelson County near Michigan, N.D., Kajer began noticing the colorfully painted squares that looked like blocks of a quilt. They were mounted on barns, quonsets, garages, businesses and other buildings or fences so they were visible from the highway. From the brochure she found that many more were scattered throughout the county.

And she thought, “We could do that.”

Kajer shared her vision with her friend Mary Noska and they began their research. They gathered together people, like Vonnie Diehl and artist Pam Collins. They collaborated with organizations like the Piecemakers Quilt Club, the Staples Motley FFA and the Staples Motley Area Community Foundation. 

The result is Barn Quilts of Central Minnesota.

This summer the shared vision is becoming a reality in the Staples and Motley area as seven barn quilts are being designed, painted and installed with the help of a grant from the community foundation. 

Other barn quilts developed independently are already in place or soon will be. 

Barn quilts are either 4 ft. by 4 ft or 8 ft. by 8 ft. squares painted to look like an individual quilt block. Each quilt is a unique piece of art designed by the building owner or by a local artist. 

Barn Quilts of Central Minnesota (BQCMN) and the Staples Motley FFA applied for a grant from the Staples Motley Area Community Foundation to get the project started. The Staples Motley School District is the fiscal agent. The foundation awards grants to organizations within the geographic boundaries of the school district. 

The $2,000 grant is being used to purchase supplies, to contract with local artist Pam Collins for design and implementation assistance and with J & J Solutions in Staples for website design. In addition, J & J is donating one year of website maintenance. Todd Wadena Electric Cooperative has agreed to provide equipment to help to install the quilts.

Members of BQCMN and FFA are preparing, painting and installing the quilts. They have committed to three 8 ft. by 8 ft. blocks and four 4 ft. by 4 ft. blocks.

After priming the boards the design is meticulously drawn and then marked with painting tape. Three coats of acrylic enamel paint are required for each color in the design. Each coat must be allowed to dry thoroughly before the next one is applied. 

In their research the group discovered varying theories for finishing the design. The barn quilt trail in Carver County, just west and a bit south of the Twin Cities, chose not to use a finishing coat, preferring to eventually have a weathered look. A group in Ontario, Canada, uses a concrete sealer. BQCMN has decided not to use a finishing coat.

The nearest trail to this one is 120 miles away in the Lindstrom and Chisago area. 

The Carver County quilt trail began 16 years ago and has spurred some economic development in the area. 

The owner of one of the original sites began a tour business. She will set up a tour with bus companies in the area or, as in the case when the Piecemakers Quilt Club visited the area, she stepped on their bus. She directed the driver and told the stories behind each of the quilts they visited.

One of the quilt locations opened a retail store in their building and sold quilt trail souvenirs, among other things. 

With the Staples Motley Area Arts Council as a partner BQCMN plans to apply for a Five Wings Arts Council grant so they can help others create their own barn quilts to expand the trail.

The goal is to have 25 blocks in place by August, 2017, so they continue to seek  locations for quilts. Visit their website at, call Kajer at 218-894-2906 or email for more information and to get an application form. 

A list of conditions and requirements are included on the application. For instance, to be listed on the website and trail map the owner must agree to maintain the barn quilt for a certain number of years. They also agree to allow the barn quilt and building to be photographed, although they do not necessarily have to allow public access to their property. 

Addresses and GPS coordinates will be listed on the website, map and other publicity materials once the barn quilts are installed. 

The 8 ft. by 8 ft. barn quilts that are part of the community foundation grant project will be on property owned by:

o Carmel Apple Orchard

o Sue and Dale Adams

o Judi and Joe Marte

The 4 ft. by 4 ft. barn quilts will be at:

o Leader Creamery

o Don and Dave’s Store

o Motley Fair building

o Living Legacy Gardens/Ag Center

Other barn quilts already in place in the area are owned by:

o Lorna and Mel Wiens

o Rita and Gary Stracek

o Lisa and Tom Kajer

o Jane Motzko

More information on barn quilts can be found on the website for the American Barn Quilt Trail at


Advertising Deadlines

Deadline for advertisements and copy is Friday, noon.

Staples World

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 100 Staples, MN 56479 Telephone: (218) 894-1112 - Fax: (218) 894-3570 Toll Free: 1-888-894-1112 E Mail:;

Deadline: Friday, noon


Sign Up For Breaking News

Stay informed on our latest news!

Manage my subscriptions

Subscribe to Breaking News feed