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‘Thursdays at the U’ returns Sept. 2 with discussion of barn quilts in Wisconsin

| Linda Tollefsrud and Diane Walkoff

Photo caption: Several examples of barn quilt patterns were on display at the WoodWind Park Performance & Event Venue in Wheeler as part of their first craft fair in May. (Submitted photo)

Mary and Mike Kolstad

Mary and Michael Kolstad (Submitted photo)

Have you ever wondered about the meaning behind the intricate quilts displayed on barns throughout the state? Mary and Michael Kolstad, whose interest in barn quilts was piqued five years ago during a road trip, will present “Barn Quilts in Wisconsin” Sept. 2 to open UW-Eau Claire – Barron County's "Thursdays at the U" weekly series. Their talk will be from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Blue Hills Lecture Hall (Room 234, Ritzinger Hall) on the Rice Lake campus. Please note: Per UW-Eau Claire's campus mask guidelines, face coverings are required indoors for all attendees.

The Kolstads will discuss the history behind barn quilts and the significance of different patterns and colors. They also will share many examples of this art form. Since driving through Shawano County and seeing more than 300 barn quilts on display, the Kolstads have worked with the Dunn County Extension office to increase the number of barn quilts in western Wisconsin.

"Our mission is to ‘color’ the countryside with barn quilts on barns and wherever they will bring a sense of history and family," the Kolstads say.

Mary Kolstad taught business management at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire before retiring in 2016. Michael Kolstad was a technical education teacher in the Elk Mound schools before until his retirement in 2014. Both have been involved in artistic ventures for decades through the Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild and Eau Claire Children's Theatre.

The "Thursdays at the U" weekly series is free and open to the public thanks to support from the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation. 

For more information about the series, contact Dr. Linda Tollefsrud, professor emeritus of psychology, UW Colleges, at or 715-788-6216.