Tale of a Barn Quilt Trail in Cleveland, North Carolina

by | Aug 17, 2021 | Attractions

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with one of our local artists in Rowan County, Elsie Bennett, who has been featured in Our State Magazine a few times. We sat down at her new store, Elsie’s Ice Cream Parlor and General Store, which is located at 103 West Main Street, in Downtown Cleveland, N.C.  The day I stopped by West Rowan Schools were having a scavenger hunt for their teachers and the store was their last stop for a scoop of ice cream.  People were buzzing around everywhere! 

Now people that know me may say I am a busy person, but let me tell you I don’t hold a candle to Elsie and her busy schedule.  Elsie also runs West Rowan Home, and Garden located at 11575 N.C. Highway 150, Mt. Ulla, N.C.   She schedules and teaches painting classes for barn quilts, runs a shop with multiple vendors, serves up ice cream along with other delicious sweets, and does it all with a smile.  For some reason, after creating the largest Community Barn Quilt in North Carolina in 2019 (located on the side of her West Rowan Store) she decided she needed to outdo her own record. 

An Opportunity with the Town of Cleveland

Elise said she decided to post on her Facebook about wanting a space large enough to put up another Community Barn Quilt and it needed to be at least 1,000 square feet.  As luck would have it there were a couple of firefighters with the Cleveland Fire Department that saw her post.  They contacted her about putting this new project on the side of the new Cleveland Fire Department.  The barn quilts for this will tell a story just like the ones for the original Community Barn Quilt in Mt. Ulla.  Some stories are sweet and some are sad, but they all tell a story of the individuals that paint them. Currently, Elsie has several squares that are available for purchase where you can paint or she will help you.  They are also selling the letters in “Cleveland, North Carolina”.  So, you could pick an initial that is significant to you.  The squares are $45.00 each and will proudly hang there for a lifetime.

Elsie shared that Lil Shavers are helping with some installation materials and that she only trusts A.W. Sons Construction with their attention to detail to install the barn quilts on the fire department.

Town of Cleveland Sign is a Barn Quilt

Mayor Pat Phifer and Christine Brown-Auman reached out to Elise to paint a barn quilt for the Town of Cleveland.  It’s proudly posted on the side of the building where Elise’s store and the U.S. Post Office are located.   It states “Town of Cleveland, NC, Connecting & Creating… Always original”.  Elsie’s designs are all original as well and she makes them all unique for where they will be hung.  You would be very hard-pressed to find duplicates of this artist’s work.

A Tale of a Barn Quilt Trail

As if the Community Barn Quilt for Cleveland isn’t enough Elise has another project that she is working on with the Town.  An estimated 1.5-mile Barn Quilt Walking Trail is coming soon for everyone to enjoy!  “It’s important to be healthy, and Cleveland is a safe place without a lot of traffic,” Elise told me.  But readers… this isn’t an ordinary walking trail.  The proposal is to have ten, six-sided barn quilt cubes which means a lot of barn quilt painting for a total of 60 unique signs.  The barn quilt cubes will be the markers along the trail.  Per Elsie, “take a walk… it doesn’t cost anything”!

The trail will encompass the area around town that will include participation from all of the communities there and will lead you along a scenic route to include the new school, the new library, and the new fire department where the new largest barn quilt will be hung!  I can’t wait to come out and behold the vision that Elsie has for this special trial. The celebration is planned for Saturday, October 23 starting at 10:00 a.m., a walk of the barn quilt trail at 11:00 a.m., a chili cook-off starting at 12:00 p.m. on Depot Street, and ending the day with Bluegrass music starting at 1:00 p.m.  The town is helping with the PR and promotions of the Community Barn Quilt along with the Barn Quilt Trail.  So, be sure to keep an eye on social media posts from Your Rowan, the Town of Cleveland, and West Rowan Home, and Garden for updates!  I already have it written down on my barn quilt calendar for sure!!

Other West Rowan Events

Well with all the painting and planning that Elsie has to do you would think she would be out of ideas, but you would be incorrect.  She also has plenty of other events planned for Cleveland and for Mt. Ulla.


The Pecan Festival will be on Saturday, October 9 from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. on Depot Street.  Look for lots of local crafts.  Fun Fact… did you know there use to be pecan groves in Cleveland?  Next time you drive through look around at all the pecan trees located in town.  Who knew?

Cleveland Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 4 from 10:00 a.m.-TBA.  This will be a craft show following the parade and a great place to grab those last-minute Christmas gifts.  The plan is to also have a Christmas Choir show as well.

Mt. Ulla

The Community Fall Festival is on Saturday, September 18 from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. and will be located at the West Rowan Home, and Garden store.  You will find a lot of craft enthusiasts there for this event.

Christmas in Mt. Ulla is on Saturday, November 6 also at West Rowan Home, and Garden store. This is always a fun event.

As I was preparing to leave Elsie walked me around the grounds and out behind the store where people come on Sundays for open mic nights.  At Elsie’s every Sunday from 6:00-8:30 p.m. they have live music.  Everyone is welcome to come and share their music.  I told Elsie that she really is a very busy lady and she looked at me and said, “Why be ordinary… do it and make a difference”! And you know what… she sure is!

Elsie’s Ice Cream Parlor and General Store is open:

Thursday-Saturday from 11:00 a.m.-8:30 p.m. and Sundays 3:00-8:30 p.m.  Go in grab some ice cream

and enjoy!


About The Author

Janet Ruffin

I’m an adventurous soul that loves to interact with people everywhere I go. You might say I’ve never met a stranger! I look forward to discovering and sharing all the things Rowan County has to offer because it’s Your Rowan!