A retirement hobby turned into a project highlighting agriculture in Wisconsin and turning into tourism.
Jim and Irene Leuenberger saw their first barn quilt taking day trips across the Midwest in June 2010, giving Jim the idea to get a barn quilt project started in Shawano Co.
Leuenberger took his idea to county 4-H leaders and partnered with eight local chapters, creating barn quilts for 4-H projects. From there, he took it to the local Chamber of Commerce.
“At first when he came to me I said, ‘That sounds great, but what is it?’” said Patti Peterson of Shawano Co. Chamber Of Commerce “I had never heard of a barn quilt at that point. As soon as I realized what they were and what they could mean for our area, I was all over it.”
The original goal was to have 44 quilts adorn barns in the area.
“People started noticing the articles or reading the articles,” said Leuenberger. “People started coming to me in droves and the first full year of 2011, we put up 96 quilts.”
The first few gained a lot of interest and soon, more people were clamoring for quilts. A total of 319 quilts have adorned barns all over the county, more than any county in the U.S.