Maggie Anne’s in downtown Hillsdale sub­mitted a water­melon chair painted by Patti and Megan Bailey to the Her­itage Asso­ci­a­tion’s Hillsdale Chair Affair. Courtesy|Facebook

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.”