‘Quar­ter­mania’ raised $10,000 on Sat­urday for the Black Bear Project. Facebook|Hillsdale County Her­itage Asso­ci­ation

A “Quar­ter­mania” fundraiser held by the Hillsdale County Her­itage Asso­ci­ation on Sat­urday raised enough money for Heather Tritchka, an exec­utive board member on the Hillsdale County Her­itage Asso­ci­ation, to set a com­pletion date for her years-long project: On June 7, she’ll unveil three bronze bear statues by Baw Beese Lake.

“If we hadn’t made enough money, we would have had to push it back to the fall,” Tritchka said.

The auction fundraiser raised $4,949 — and an anonymous donor con­tributed an addi­tional $5,000 to reach Her­itage Asso­ci­ation board chair Connie Sexton’s goal of $10,000, Sexton said. The bears, which Tritchka sculpted, are cur­rently at a foundry and the money will go toward fin­ishing the bronzing.

About 105 people attended the fundraiser at 55 Below on Broad Street, though Sexton said she’d only expected 75 or so. Attendees could buy paddles with quarters that they then used to bid on 65 items — every­thing from Fitbits to bedding to jewelry. The event also included a silent basket auction, Sexton said. The asso­ci­ation served Coney dogs, chips, and bear-themed cup­cakes (and “cub­cakes”).

“It was a packed room with high energy,” Tritchka said.

Sexton and Tritchka said the com­munity came together for it. Several local busi­nesses — 55 Below, Simply Hers mag­azine, CL Real Estate, Jilly Beans Too, Hillsdale Mar­keting Group, Hillsdale Jew­elers, and Moore Insurance — spon­sored the event to cover almost the entire cost of the auc­tioned goods, Sexton said. Members of the Her­itage Association’s youth group, mostly middle schoolers, helped run tables. And Woody Horn, the bar­tender at Pub and Grub, emceed the event.

“Hillsdale is a great com­munity,” Sexton said. “It was a huge success.”

Ben Baldwin, the owner of 55 Below, said he was happy to host the event and bring people to his ren­o­vated space (where he hopes to open a bar soon).

“It worked out the best for both of us,” he said.

The Black Bear project — fea­turing a mama bear and two cubs —  intends to increase “edu­cation of indigenous species for the people of Hillsdale,” according to the Her­itage Asso­ci­ation website. The bears will greet passersby on the Baw Beese trail and have memorial benches alongside them. The total cost of the project falls just under $95,000, Sexton said.

Tritchka said the asso­ci­ation still needs to raise $2,000-$3000 more to finish paying for the bears, but another fundraiser scheduled for May should take care of that. That fundraiser will be a “chair fair”: People can paint chairs and put them around town for others to buy.

Tritchka said she was impressed by others’ help in bringing the project close to com­pletion.

“I just realized the col­lab­o­ration it takes to pull this off,” she said.