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.