Barn quilt organizers hope project puts HI on the map

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

By Samantha Jones

The Holiday Island Barn features the first barn quilt in Carroll County, and the volunteers behind the project hope it’s not the last.

Robin Makidon said she wants other cities to erect their own barn quilts so that Carroll County can be part of a barn quilt trail, which would bring more people to the area. Denise Marta-Burch agreed, saying many people travel just to see the different barn quilts throughout the country.

“The barn quilts I know of are in Kansas mostly, and people actually plan their vacations around going to see different barn quilts,” Marta-Burch said.

The goal is to bring people to Holiday Island so they can see everything the area has to offer, Marta-Burch said, and the barn quilt goes a long way toward making that happen. That’s especially true if more barn quilts exist in the county, Marta-Burch said.

“I feel that it would be great if other people in Carroll County picked this up and got on the trail,” Marta-Burch said. “It just has to be visible from the road so the public can see it.”

Kathy Kirk, president of the quilt guild, said the idea for the barn quilt came from an article Makidon read in the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette. Makidon said she saw the article last year and enjoyed reading about all the barn quilts in Arkansas. That’s when she decided that Carroll County should have a barn quilt trail, Makidon said.

“There’s a whole big list of counties that have started trails, so now we’re on the list,” Makidon said. “I thought this would be great in Carroll County. We can feature our barn, which is historic, and people have worked really hard to get it in the shape that it is.”

Christine Elwood, president of the Friends of the Barn, said the land where the Barn is located was purchased in 1938 by a Chicago banker. She said it was used to house Tennessee Walking Horses at first but later became the site of many restaurants where entertainers performed on the rotating stage in the middle of the building. It was first purchased to be used as a restaurant in 1954, Elwood said.

“They decided to have those restaurants as an incentive to those buyers to have some place to eat and be entertained,” Elwood said. “Famous country music singers and country music bands came here back then.”

Elwood said the Barn was purchased by Chicago banker Henry Banach to serve as the rustic Fisherman’s Paradise resort in 1954 and was sold again in 1970 and 1974, when it became known as the Holiday Island Steakhouse. The last time it was a restaurant, Elwood said, was in 1994. When the Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District purchased the Barn, it became the site of public gatherings such as parties, weddings and receptions.

“The Friends of the Barn has large gatherings at the barn twice a year, and that’s pretty much what it’s used for at the moment,” Elwood said.

Because it got its starts as a horse barn, Elwood said, the barn quilt features the silhouette of a horse. Gail Koelling, who designed the barn quilt, said she ran several designs by the quilt guild before the final design was chosen.

“The guild actually voted on the silhouette that’s up there. Then we researched and found that Arkansas actually has its own star,” Kirk said. “Many states have stars. What’s up there is the horse head silhouette signifying this was a horse barn at one time and the surrounding stars are the Arkansas stars.”

Kirk continued, “The silhouette with the stars … it was brought to the membership, laid out and we all voted. This is the one that was voted on. The colors were decided on by the art guild themselves, but I also have to give credit to Jeanette Selleck.”

Kirk said Selleck helped coordinate everyone involved with the project and Marta-Burch thanked Selleck for her contributions.

“Jeanette is the one I worked back and forth with,” Marta-Burch said.

Marta-Burch described the process of painting the barn quilt, saying the quilt guild voted on the color swatches before she started painting. From there, Marta-Burch said, it came together pretty easily. She said she painted the whole thing herself because of constraints surrounding COVID-19. It took more than a year to complete the project because of the pandemic, Marta-Burch said.

“It’s been a long process,” Marta-Burch said.

What’s it like to see their hard work on display for everyone to see?

“I think it’s awesome,” Koelling said.

Kirk agreed and said she’s excited to see the domino effect of the project.

“We’re looking forward to just getting it on the trail. It will bring people into Holiday Island,” Kirk said. “They’ve got to drive through a whole lot of Holiday Island to get to this barn, so hopefully it will bring new residents in as well.”

“I think a lot of people think of Eureka Springs as Eureka Springs proper, but they don’t know about a lot of things like our barn over here,” Marta-Burch said. “When I was looking for a house out here, I didn’t even know the Island existed.”

Makidon said she hopes this is the the first of many barn quilts in Carroll County.

“Really why I want to get the message across Carroll County is to get other people to put a barn quilt up, not just on a barn but other structures, so we can have a trail,” Makidon said. “We want it to spread around the county.”

For more information on how to be a part of the quilt trail, visit or email

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