Barn quilts spruce up historic fairgrounds building

by Charles Gerian

Those driving by the county fairgrounds on Main Street recently might have seen colorful new additions to the old agricultural science building in the form of colorful new barn quilts and a new coat of paint on the exterior, thanks to the Blackwell Tourism organization and the Blackwell Public Power Department.

“Lynne [Field], with Blackwell Tourism, had been looking for a wall where we could paint a large barn quilt,” Cindy Oard said. “Brenda [Russell] and Lynne were walking down by the fairgrounds one day and it just ... kind of came into being.”

Oard, who owns the Wonderfully Made Studio on Main Street where the barn quilts are painted, donated pencils, knives, and erases to the tourism organization, which bought wood and paint. Oard's husband, Tracy, helped cut the large quilts to size.

“Tourism bought the supplies, and we painted every Tuesday night for a couple of months,” Oard said. “I created the designs, and a few weekends ago, we had worked on painting the front shutters. Due to the elevation, we couldn't reach the north and south ones, but the City of Blackwell helped us with those. Blackwell Public Power were wonderful in painting and hanging these up. We believe this is a great addition to our Barn Quilt Trail.”

“The designs are meant to invoke things that would be entered or seen in the Kay County Free Fair,” Oard said about the quilts. “We plan on filling all the windows eventually.”

Oard, who pioneered the Barn Quilt Trail in Blackwell in 2018, currently hosts classes at her studio. She can be reached via phone at 580-670-0432 or through Facebook at

John Robertson, executive director of the Blackwell Chamber of Commerce, said the runaway success of the city’s trails was something he never saw coming.

“We have people that stop in from all over,” he said. “Weekly, there are folks coming in here to hunt the geo-trail, and they'll get some donuts, do the trail, shop around a bit, eat here, then tell their friends about it. The spots on Discover Oklahoma about Prairie Smoke and the Barn Quilt Trail have really brought a lot of new people to down.”

Robertson said people have driven to Blackwell all the way from south Texas to hunt the geo-trail, a geocaching adventure programed alongside the 62 arranged barn quilts in town. There are 40 geocaches in Blackwell.