Communities Heritage

Appalachian Barn Alliance Celebrates Barn Month

Barn Day Tour group studies the Carson Roberts log-crib livestock barn. Photo by Frances Figart.

Since the first settler arrived, agriculture has shaped the scenery of our region. In Madison County alone, more than 10,000 barns from a hundred years ago still stand.

The Appalachian Barn Alliance (ABA) partners with others in the county to celebrate agricultural heritage with events scheduled throughout the month culminating in the fourth annual Barn Day on Saturday, May 20, from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Mars Hill.

“I received a phone call in March from a woman in Charlotte asking how she and her friend who lives in Boone could get tickets to Barn Day in May,” says Sandy Stevenson, president of the ABA board of directors. “For me, this confirms that we offer a unique and popular event.”

To kick off the month, Thursday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m. there will be a free lecture and guided tour of Shelter on the Mountain: Barns and Building Traditions of the Southern Highlands, an exhibit at the Rural Heritage Museum at Mars Hill University (MHU). Architect and ABA’s chief researcher Taylor Barnhill will speak in the Peterson Lecture Room of Blackwell Hall. Call 828.689.1400 for more information.

Friday, May 5, from 6–8 p.m. a free opening reception of The Barns of Madison County exhibit will be held at the Madison County Arts Center on South Main Street in Marshall. Amateur and professional photographers and artists will be on hand to discuss and sell their barn images. The exhibit will be on display Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. all month. Learn more by calling 828. 649.1301.

Sunday, May 14, from 1–3 p.m., local artist and educator Susan McChesney will offer a Color Drawing Barn Journal workshop at the Beech Glen Community Center in Mars Hill. “With color drawing/watercolor materials and a handmade paper journal provided, learn introductory drawing basics in sketches that capture what you see in your own unique way,” says McChesney. To reserve a place, email or call 207.232.7759. Donations to ABA are requested.

Saturday, May 20, the fourth annual ABA Barn Day begins with a guided tour of local barns led by the aforementioned Taylor Barnhill starting at 2:30 p.m. “It’s always a pleasure to spend an afternoon with people who love our mountain barns,” he says. “They come from across the region, and they have great questions about the barn history—questions and enthusiasm that keep me on my toes.” The tour is followed by a dinner catered by Woodfin’s Chupacabra Latin Café, mountain music and a country auction that is the nonprofit organization’s annual fundraiser at Steen’s Barn in Mars Hill.

ABA’s Barn Month draws to a close Sunday, May 21, from 1–4 p.m., as the Mad Spinners offer a free demonstration of wool spinning on the MHU Quad near the Rural Heritage Museum.

Tickets for Barn Day are $40 per person or $75 for couple and must be purchased in advance by calling 828.380.1178. Learn more about Barn Month and Barn Day by emailing and visiting


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