An annual fall tour that encouraged visitors to take a driving tour of Champaign County will end because of declining attendance and a lack of volunteers.
For eight years, the Champaign County Barn Quilt Tour was offered in September or October and included a weekend that offered activities and entertainment at a handful of stops. That weekend will no longer be offered, said Sandi Arnold, executive director of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau.
However, residents can still pick up a map of the county’s roughly 80 barn quilts and take a self-guided version of the tour, Arnold said. The original quilt designs are displayed on barns and business scattered throughout Champaign County. It was one of about 20 events the chamber promoted.
The tour has faced declining attendance for two years, Arnold said, and an important volunteer position on the Barn Quilt Tour Committee has been vacant during that time.
It was a difficult decision, Arnold said, but placing less emphasis on the tour will allow the chamber’s small staff to focus more on serving chamber members in other ways.
“We’re focusing on the basics of our operation,” Arnold said.
The Barn Quilt Tour weekend could still continue if another civic or community group volunteers, Arnold said. Doing so would involve recruiting new barn owners to join the event, reviewing requests for barn quilts and coordinating their design and installation.
One of the benefits of the tour, Arnold said, is it allows visitors and residents a chance to drive through parts of Champaign County they may not have seen otherwise. Maps will still be available at the chamber offices, as well as a handful of other businesses.
Some businesses that participated in the tour in the past said they were sorry to see the change.
The Mad River Farm Market, West Liberty, hosted activities and provided a display of quilts in the building’s loft in the past, said owner Michele Hess.
She said the tour gave new customers a chance to visit the business and see what it had to offer.
“As a business owner, it was very successful for us,” Hess said.
Arnold said volunteers donated time to make the event possible and thanked area businesses and visitors who helped make the tour a success for the past eight years.
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