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National Quilt Trail Gathering to feature premiere of “Pieced Together” documentary

Holly Nelms • Jul 27, 2016 at 10:30 PM

GREENEVILLE — Growing up with a mother who is a quilter, Julianne Donofrio could recognize a normal quilt square when she saw one.

However, after seeing a painted, wooden quilt square hanging on a barn during a 2009 road trip through East Tennessee, Donofrio said she had to investigate.

“I had no idea why it was there,” she said. “I looked it up on Google and saw that there wasn’t much out there.”

After a little more Internet-searching, Donofrio was led to Donna Sue Groves, an Adams County, Ohio, resident who was the brainchild of quilt trails, which are a series of quilt squares often hung along a driving route.

A freelance journalist at the time, Donofrio was intrigued by Groves’ story and knew she wanted to be the one to tell it.

“Initially, I did a five-minute story about Donna Sue that’s on YouTube, but I realized five minutes wasn’t enough,” Donofrio said. “I knew there was more there.”

This led Donofrio to begin filming “Pieced Together,” a feature-length documentary that follows Groves’ personal struggles with losing her job and fighting breast cancer, in addition to her launch of the quilt trail movement.

The documentary will make its world premiere on August 11, during the National Quilt Trail Gathering in Greeneville.

“When you see Donna Sue, you fall in love; she’s a very special person,” Donofrio said. “I wanted to put (the story) down in history books.”

The film begins soon after Donofrio and Groves met, and describes Groves’ original idea to use a painted quilt square to decorate an old barn for her mother, Nina Maxine.

It goes on to explain how Groves and her neighbors started the first quilt square trail in Adams County, Ohio, leading to the establishment of quilt trails in more than 40 states, including Tennessee, and several Canadian provinces.

Donofrio said “Pieced Together,” which is the first documentary outlining the quilt square trail movement, took about six years to complete, and describes the experience as a “labor of love.”

She is glad the film will premiere in Tennessee, which was one of the first states to join the quilt trail movement.

“I’m still making a few changes to it, but it’s pretty much finished,” she said. “The people in Tennessee have been so supportive, so I’m really excited to be in Greeneville.”

The documentary will premiere on the first day of the National Quilt Trail Gathering, which will be held August 11-13.

In addition to the film screening, the gathering will feature presentations from storyteller Elizabeth Ellis, historian Merikay Waldvogel and fiber artist Patricia Mink, with a cost of $10 per event.

Other events that will be held during the gathering include a Quilt Turning & Farm Dinner on August 12 at 6:30 p.m., at Still Hollow Century Farm. Tickets for this event are $35.

The gathering will conclude on August 13 with the Quilt Barn Motor Coach Tour at 9 a.m. For $60, attendees will visit four quilt barn stops, with lunch included in historic Jonesborough.

Donofrio hopes the film will display the beauty of this country, while also encouraging viewers to become a part of the quilt trail movement.

“People take a lot of pride in their communities, and this is one way they can see it,” she said. “I hope people are inspired when they see it, because as Donna Sue says, ‘Anybody can play.’ ”

To learn more about “Pieced Together,” visit www.piecedtogetherdoc.com. To watch the trailer, visit https://youtu.be/JVCjQhmr3aI.

For more information about the National Quilt Trail Gathering, visit www.nationalqtgathering.com. To purchase tickets, call 423-979-2581.

Those who want to purchase tickets specifically for the film screening can do so in advance at www.capitolgreeneville.org/event/quilt-trail-national-gathering-pieced-together-documentary-and-dessert. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.