Local stores of all stripes are partnering with the Heritage Association of Hillsdale in honor of the organization’s annual “Chair Affair” fundraiser.
Participating businesses decorate chairs for customers to bid on during a silent auction that spans over a few weeks. All proceeds go toward funding the association’s latest project, a sculpture of a mama bear and her two cubs, which will be placed on the Baw Beese Trail. The nonprofit aims to raise the remaining $3,000 to cover the costs of casting the statue.
“Our organization was trying to come up with a way to put the ‘fun’ in fundraiser,” said Connie Sexton, executive board director and cofounder of the Heritage Association. “We wanted to do something to bring the community together.”
Sexton explained that the bear sculpture was inspired by the association’s goal of preserving local history, including recognizing the species that are indigenous to the region.
“We’re trying to educate the public with beautiful visual reminders of our heritage,” she said. “We want to make people curious and want to learn more. Next to the sculpture there’ll be a plaque that gives a little history about the bears that once lived in this area.”
The bears were sculpted by Heather Tritchka ’98, cofounder of the Heritage Association. The project has been in the works for almost fifteen years.
“I got the idea when I would take my daughter on stroller walks down the trail,” she said. “I thought it’d be neat to have something along the trail to get out and look at. And then I thought it’d be nice if they were statues of indigenous animals that you could talk to your child about. My daughter is 17 now, so it’s been a long time coming.”
Patty Bailey is the owner of Maggie Anne’s, a local clothing boutique, and is participating in the Chair Affair. Her business’s contribution is a rocking chair she and her daughter painted to look like a watermelon.
“It’s a great cause,” Bailey said. “I love to walk the Baw Beese trails and so do a lot of others in Hillsdale. This is a great way for people to get out and about and recognize the artistic abilities of people from the community. It creates a lot energy and excitement, which is great to see in the downtown area.”
The fundraiser will conclude with an auction during the Heritage Association’s Art Around Town event on May 4th. Until then, students, faculty, and locals are invited to check out the chairs and place bids.
“People have the chance to support a project the whole community can enjoy,” Tritchka said. “Plus, you get a really cool chair that has a great story behind it. It’s a conversation piece.”