HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The first art show was held at the Harrisville Harbor, on top of the hill, in 1968. It was sponsored by the Harrisville Lady Lions and the Ladies sold sloppy joes from the Lion’s food trailer. It was windy and cold; the total number of exhibitors was six. An airman from Wurtsmith AFB was the most impressive of the group , which consisted mainly of Bruce Hartman’s students.
Bruce held weekly art classes for the area’s young people. Two of the mothers of the young people were also charter members of the Lady Lions. Through various discussions with these mothers, the idea of an art show was planned with the Lady Lions as sponsors. The first few shows were held the first weekend in August and were not changed to Labor Day until the fourth year.
The second annual art show was held on the southeast portion of the courthouse lawn. The Lady Lions had a food booth consisting of three 4’ x 8’ plywood sections sections- hinged together for walls and a 4’x8’ roof. Coffee, lemonade and sloppy joes were served. The sloppy joes were heated on a kerosene stove donated by Wayne Riebow from Riebow’s Hardware. The exhibitors set up in a circle around the perimeter. If $125 in fees were collected (which was the average), the money was used for expenses and awards of $25 for first place; $10 for second; $5 third place. Silver dollars were given as prizes to exhibitors under 16 yrs.
The Lions food wagon was the only food available at the show for years. The Lady Lions eventually gave the chore over to the Lions and up until a few years ago, aided the Lions in the serving of hotdogs, etc. The tradition of giving a ticket for coffee and donut to the exhibitors began when the show was small and was sponsored by the Lady Lions and the Arts Council continues that tradition today.
When the art show was moved to Labor Day to coincide with the Barbershoppers reunion, the number of exhibitors increased…mainly from the Barbershoppers and their wives attending the reunion. In the early years, the Lions with the help of their wives sponsored the Barbershoppers and held a potluck supper at the VFW Hall to welcome the Quartets and their families to Harrisville. Years following the Potluck dinner, the gathering was moved to Maria Hall with food, drinks and sound equipment furnished by the Lions Club. Now the Saturday evening is organized by the Barbershoppers and Sweet Adelines themselves, and the public is invited.
The addresses of the exhibitors were kept on a hand written list and every spring, the Lady Lions would address the envelopes by hand at a regular meeting. The Lady Lions meetings were held at noon each month at the home of a member. Usually, a salad, sandwich and coffee were served on white lunch platters the Lady Lions had purchased with Holden’s Red Stamps.
Bruce designed the first application that was printed by the Lincoln Herald. It was printed on bright pink, heavy paper then tri-folded, stapled and mailed. This same application with some variation was used for 20+ years. The Arts Council still hands out bright pink applications to vendors on Harmony Weekend, so they can apply on the spot for the next year!
Early in the 1970’s, a group met and wrote an application for a grant to purchase equipment for the show, tables, tents, etc. The grant was fine, except that we needed a 501C3 tax number to qualify.
In 1974, Patti Pridnia was President of the Lady Lions and her husband, John was President of the Lions. John felt that the Art Council should be incorporated. John, consulting with James Cook, filed the application with the State, and the Harrisville Arts Council became a separate entity. Bruce Hartman was elected president and remained so for 20+ years. The Art Council and all its equipment, papers and computer (purchased in the late 80’s) were kept by Bruce and his wife, Joan. The addresses of exhibitors were put on computer and printed on labels from that time on.
The Art Council monthly meetings were held in the City Office during the years before the Arts Council building was constructed. Bruce brought the labels to a meeting each spring and members affixed the labels.
In 1995, a new computer was purchased from Den’s Computers in Oscoda. It was definitely an upgrade and the addresses were transferred. This computer was set up in Chuck Welton’s office on Main St. and data was transferred from the index cards into the Microsoft Access program. From this time, the committee met at Chuck’s office to receive apps and fill the maps and return confirmations.
In 2002, the Harrisville Arts Council building was constructed with funds accumulated from CDs and Savings accounts, as well as the donated labor of Dick Hartz. A new Dell system was purchased with Microsoft XP and now all of our reports are much more easily created.