Mt. Gretna Newsletter
Mt. Gretna, Pa.
"Not a place, but a spirit." Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)
The 38th Annual Mt. Gretna Art Show:
Marching to a Different Drummer
Get ready for
Mt. Gretna's busiest time of the year -- for porch parties, family
gatherings and get-togethers with good friends -- all amid the
excitement of more than 10,000 visitors coming to a town of 1,500
people for one jam-packed summer weekend Aug. 18-19.
The Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show, about to embark on its 38th year,
remains one of the most popular events in Central Pennsylvania.
But keep it in perspective: It operates on the theory that good things
do indeed come in small packages. Bigger is not always better. So don't
look for more exhibitors than ever before. Or more people pouring in
the entrance gates. Or revenues that top last year's nearly $200,000.
Money, size and record crowds were never top priorities here. In an age
when more is usually the measure of success, the key ingredients
of this show's enduring popularity are small, intimate and
To be sure, billboards, TV and newspaper ads beckon visitors. But the
chief aim this year, as in others, is to create a pleasant, memorable
experience that takes people out of the everyday. It's a chance to meet
artists of every stripe, discover how they work, and maybe find a unique piece of artwork that will take
a permanent place in their homes and shape their world. That can be
downright refreshing in a world of where most things we buy come in
boxes stamped "Made in China."
As an annual
event, the Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show is almost an annual miracle, but
one that sits atop a fragile bubble -- vulnerable not only to the
forces of an uncertain economy, but also to the whims of Mother Nature.
"It concerns me that one major storm could wipe it all out,"
says show director Linda Bell.
Hurricane Irene, she points out, missed the show by less than a week
last year. "Had it arrived six days earlier, the entire show would
have been canceled," says Linda. Organizers brace for that
possibility. Every year, they put aside emergency funds should a
last-minute cancellation force refunds of exhibitor booth fees, which
range from $350 to $700 each.
This year's event will showcase 264 exhibitors, chosen from among 497
who applied in competitive judging last April. Although the number of
applicants was down slightly from previous years, fewer exhibitors are
part of a nationwide trend. One reason is the overall economy, sources
say. Another is the "aging of the artists
Fred Swarr's 2012 poster.
as fewer young people choose the itinerant lifestyle of traveling
artists. To attract buyers, many younger artists now look to the
Internet and social media.
Yet among the encouraging trends for a show like Mt. Gretna's is a
tendency for exhibiting artists to stick to events closer to home.
That's likely a plus for outdoor shows in the Northeast, where many
artists choose to live because of its proximity to major markets. Among
this year's exhibitors, 115, or 45%, are from Pennsylvania. They
include Mt. Gretna photographer Madelaine Gray and artist Fred Swarr (who created
this year's art show poster, at right). Other states with 13 or
more exhibitors are New York (19), Florida (18), Maryland (14), and
Ohio and New Jersey (13 each).
What also helps
attract artists here is Mt. Gretna's reputation for friendliness. With
its narrow streets, close quarters and limited parking, it's not easy
to set up a big tent in a small space. Yet more than 200 local
volunteers typically win high marks for helpfulness, both in helping
with setups and serving
So who let the monkey in?
Nancy Rogers photo
while artists take a break. Volunteer Stacy Margut (email@example.com) heads the
booth-sitter brigade and says she can use more helpers this year. So
can information booth coordinator Scott Zellers (DWFashions@aol.com).
Stacy Pennington (who operates the Mt. Gretna Emporium of unique toys
and gifts) has teamed with Meghan Winslow to offer a Kids' Art Show on
Saturday with a different twist: Kids teaching kids how to do crafts,
in the playground from 9 am to 1 pm. Other attractions especially for
youngsters include "Monkey Man" Jerry Brown and balloon
artists Trist'n Shout.
Exhibitors this year include nine of 2011's top 10 Judges Choice Award
winners: potter Peggy Nadeau, Mt. Dora, FL; fabric artist Jean Yao, Ft.
Lauderdale, FL; glass artisan Toby McGee, Oklahoma City, OK; jeweler
Ingel Hanan, Berkley, CA; mixed media artist Thomas Savrda, Kent, CT;
photographer Lori Snyder, Gardners, PA; sculptor Michie Taylor, Berwyn,
PA; watercolorist James Brown, Phoenixville, PA; and woodworker Renee
Frey, New Providence, PA.
As for edible adventures, Linda Bell promises that "the food will
again be as special as the art." All of last year's vendors will
be back,she says. It's yet another detail she must attend to, another
emphasis on quality that makes this show memorable... and
ART SHOW FACTS
12,258 Art Show attendance last year
14,507 Average attendance in past 10 years
19,854 Art Show attendance in 2000 (record)
$57,000 Last year's donation to fire department,
service, and other community groups
$8 Entrance fee this year (unchanged)
28% Historical chance of rain on art show weekend
264 Exhibitors this year (55% from out of state)
expenses: Advertising, $38,000; traffic and security police $17,000;
parking lot rentals $14,000; buses $10,000; entertainers $7,000;
in 2011: $198,000 (ticket sales, food court rentals, artists' booth
spaces, artists' jury fees).
Chautauqua communities still thriving, out of 200 set up in North
America during the late 1800s.
Mt. Gretna is now part of a Chautauqua Trail stretching from Colorado to
Reports on plans for a national Chautauqua conference, to be held here
next July, will be part of the Mt. Gretna Chautauqua's 120th birthday
party, 7:30 pm Friday, Aug. 10 at the Hall of Philosophy.
Paintings in one day by an
artist to celebrate his 65 birthdays. Yes, Fred Swarr is at it again -- just like
five years ago when he polished off 60 paintings on the occasion of his
The paint-to-music artist will do all 65 paintings in one
sprint-to-the-finish marathon at his 301 Bell Ave. Campmeeting studio
Saturday, Aug. 4.
Stop by to watch the creative exhibition in progress, then at the end
of the day return with a bottle of wine. He'll exchange his art for
your wine -- one freshly done painting for each bottle -- starting at 5
We wanted to know if he would attempt 70 paintings in one day five
years from now. "Yes," he said with only the slightest
hesitation, "but just a little smaller."
3 (maybe 4) hand-painted
rocking chairs -- in an auction coming up at Mt. Gretna's community-wide
summer picnic Saturday, Sept. 1.
Two of the rockers show the
handiwork (detail, right) of artist Barb Kleinfelter.
Another is a surprise from artists at the newly opened La Cigale Gallery.
Organizers hope to have yet another rocker, with decorative touches
from artist Fred Swarr. There's also a fairy
garden tray (detail, left) from Luise Christensen-Howell.
The auction benefits Chautauqua's bursting-at-the-seams Summer Programs
pumping station nobody loves
you graduated with a degree in municipal waste management engineering,
there's not much to love about a sewage pumping
station. And we haven't yet talked with anybody who likes the way this
newest one (left) -- which greets visitors and residents along Mt.
Gretna's main entrance way -- turned out. West Cornwall Township
officials say they'll do something about it.
what they'll do to shield the Route 117 facility from public view is
still undecided. But a group headed by township supervisor Glenn Yanos
to help turn the station from an eyesore into, well, if not a silk
purse, at least something that will soften its appearance.
here's one idea. At right, our artist's Photoshop treatment showing how
arborvitae bushes might look if they surrounded the fence, with a green
mesh screen draped over the sliding front gate. The township invites
doesn't want to rush into a quick fix. Rather, he prefers to take time
to research alternatives and come up with a good long-term solution.
could involve community volunteers and donations at some point. If so,
a number of Mt. Gretnans have already said they'd be willing to help
with cash, labor and landscaping. Ideas to suggest? Send them to Yanos
at West Cornwall Municipal Authority, WCTWP@comcast.net.
Susie Afflerbach photo
Doodle: He did it HIS way
majority of our readers live in places other than Mt. Gretna -- in
other towns, states and evencountries around the world. Therefore, we
report what everyone in town already knows: The sad news that Doodle,
the fiercely independent rooster who arrived as a kind of minister
without portfolio several years ago (actually, in the back of a pickup
truck with a flock of what some surmised were purloined chickens) died
on an early morning in May. He had ventured out onto the roadway near
the pizzeria, one of his favored spots.
ended a four-year reign that won him friends and admirers, an
indisputable preeminence through photographs and paintings, and
adventures that included love affairs with a hen named Dolly and
defiant escapes from would-be captors. Among the latter were fire
department volunteers, a crack team of bird specialists from the SPCA,
and a wily Mississippi chicken catcher whose self-described stupefying
whistle prompted a boast that there wasn't a rooster he couldn't
corral. Doodle outsmarted them all. Able to fly across Route 117 with a
soaring leap that easily cleared speeding 18-wheelers, Doodle was
about his scattered deposits and early morning serenades, particularly
during the summer when many residents sleep with open windows,
gradually gave way to almost universal acceptance. Later, he ascended
to something akin to the status of a favorite pet.
the end, particularly as he grew to insist that daily sunflower seeds
be fed to him by hand -- from people like real estate staffers Peggy
Seibert and Brenda Henning, pizzeria waitress Rose Bair and even town
mayor Joe Shay -- Doodle had won a place in the hearts of nearly
set his own standards, lived life on his own terms, and added a tiny
sparkle in the lives of us all. He was, therefore, one of us.
Get Me To The Church On Time: Whether you're age 61 or
just 16 months old, life sometimes overwhelms us with too many choices.
So don't blame Brin Baker for stutter-stepping
down the aisle at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church on her baptismal
day, with all the assembled relatives and guests, including grand-mom
and grandad, who'd just arrived from Rochester, N.Y.
to do first? Discover why all those people with cameras seem to be
getting impatient? Visit grand-mom? Pull tissues out of those neat
little boxes in the pews (her favorite)? Or see what Pastor Mike Remel
has in mind with that water pitcher?
tissues won out, but only briefly. A stern glance from Mom
(work-at-home computer whiz Anna McDonald) set things aright so the
baptismal rites could proceed. Following the 10 a.m. service, Brin led
Mom and Dad (Luke Baker) and a procession of friends and relatives back
to her home in Mt. Gretna Heights.
Why do people like Twitter? Mainly to catch inspired
random insights of folks like Mt. Gretna
writer Bill Gifford (left), globe-trotting
chronicler of "anything on skis, wheels, dirt, road, dope, graft,
hooves, wings, fins, waves, cheese, red wine, high heels and
examples: @billgifford: In other news, I've apparently just bought a
$28.80 chicken. #freerange ain't free.
awaiting takeoff on a runway somewhere. . .
@billgifford: Why do first class passengers get to
board first? So they can sit on the plane longer? Or to give the rest
of us superior looks?. . . And
this: @billgifford: Will this plane take off before 8A and 8B
finalize their divorce?
author of Ledyard: In Search of the
First American Explorer,
Gifford sprints between Manhattan and Mt. Gretna (he and Harper's
Bazaar design director Elizabeth Hummer are restoring the former
Bitner home). He also created the remarkably popular Friday morning
Chautauqua Writers Series, which winds up Aug. 10 with Elizabeth Wein. As a youngster, she spent
summers with grandmother Betty Flocken in the Heights and now lives in
Scotland. She's just published Code Name Verity, a WWII adventure novel
that recently won the enthusiastic endorsement of a New York Times reviewer.
feather in his cap
for former Cornwall-Lebanon School Superintendent Ed Phillips, right.
At age 75 last month, he won the Senior Men's Net Championship at
Lebanon Country Club, competing in the division for golfers over 50.
That achievement now goes up in gold letters on the club's coveted
Board of Champions. "Never thought I'd ever see that," says
Ed, who lives in Conewago Hill with wife Lynn, an accomplished golfer
in her own right. She recently completed her term as head of the
Lebanon Valley College Board of Trustees, adding the family name to yet
another distinguished roster.
Smart Signs: A few years ago, we ran an
article hinting that maybe, just maybe, Mt. Gretnans go overboard on
signs. On one stretch of Route 117 less than a mile long, we counted 90
individual signs of all shapes and sizes. That's about one sign every
But here's a sign
we liked, crafted for thoughtful motorists on that privately owned
section of Lakeview Drive which extends from Conewago Hill to the
As we took this photo, Conewago Hill residents Jan and William Brandt
happened by. "Do you know who put this sign here?" we asked.
After a little coaxing, the modest Mr. Brandt, an attorney who also
serves as president of the Mt. Gretna Men's Club, finally
acknowledged that the idea -- and the wording -- had been his. Kudos.
Nice Touch Dept: Gretna Theatre pitched in last week with an email
blast to assist Gretna Music. The dispatch trumpeted Music's Aug. 2
Playhouse opener, Defending the Caveman. "It's a
must-see," said Theatre's Larry Frenock. The longest-running
solo play in Broadway history, this one-performance-only show in the
Playhouse is a spirited take on relationship therapy. "Don't miss
it," says Larry. Click here for tickets.
"A Thousand Points of Light"
Perfect for a Place Like Mt. Gretna: Grand Illuminations
yet another distinction to the list of things that make Mt. Gretna
unique in Central Pennsylvania.
Illuminations started over a century
ago are now enjoying a resurgent popularity throughout the country, in
places like the Martha's
Vineyard Camp Meeting Association, at Christmastime in Colonial Williamsburg and,
also during recent summers, in Mt. Gretna, Pa.
month, the Mt. Gretna Campmeeting revives its singular celebration of
"The Illumination of Our Cottages," inviting residents and
visitors to stroll through its narrow streets and pathways. Amid
lighted cottages, the event harkens back to the 1950s when youngsters
circulated through the area singing songs learned at church camp.
Grand Illumination, held last month as part of a two-day Fourth of July
spread throughout all of Mt. Gretna to honor the nation's birthday.
events seem ideally suited to Mt. Gretna, with its tiny streets and
distinctive architecture. The "Illumination of Our Cottages,"
sponsored by the Mt. Gretna Library, begins at 9:00 p.m. Saturday, Aug.
Photographs by Madelaine Gray.
Page Edgerton (1912-2012)
Marie Edgerton, who had enjoyed a cottage at 160 Brown Avenue with her
late husband Richard for many summers, died April 5 in Mt. Dora, FL.
Described as "a formidable woman" by her friend Leane
Harrington, she and her husband had been proprietors of the Lakeside
Inn, a historic Mt. Dora landmark built in the late 1800s that in many
ways may have reminded them of Mt. Gretna. With wood flooring and
rocking chairs on its expansive front porch, the hotel -- which is
still in operation -- calls to mind for some visitors echoes of the Mt.
Gretna Conewago Hotel. Mt. Dora is also a town noted for its annual art
show, held in early February. Those similarities undoubtedly won for
Mt. Gretna a special place in the couple's hearts.
She had been a member of The Colonial Dames of America and a Girl Scout
leader. Her husband, a former commissioner of the Florida Hotel and
Restaurant Commission, passed away in 2001 at age 90. Surviving are
three daughters, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
& Stuff to
The Mt. Gretna
Tour of Homes and Cottages, now in its 28th year and one of The New
York Times recommended house and garden tours in the Northeast,
takes place Saturday, Aug. 4, from 10 am to 5 pm. Proceeds benefit
Music at Gretna, one
of the nation's premier music festivals.
Among 13 tour stops this year is the cottage (right)
once occupied by the late Mary Hoffman, a legendary figure who led the
effort to restore Gretna Theatre to its former grandeur during a period
when the Playhouse nearly went under financially. Also on the tour is
the 35-acre residence of Brett and Janice Balmer, located just off
Pinch Road at the foothills of Mt. Gretna. For tickets and other
details, click here.
Tennis: For 45
years, it's where you see the best tennis in Lebanon County. The Mt.
Gretna men's singles and doubles tournament began July 28 and,
weather permitting, continues through the first week of August, at
courts along Route 117.
Art Show entertainers include two local favorites Sunday, Aug.
19: The Carmitchell Sisters (right), 2:00 - 3:30 pm, and Andy Roberts'
New World Parade jazz group, noon - 1:30 pm. Saturday's on-stage
entertainers offer Celtic to contemporary pop in 90-minute stints, 10
am - 5:30 pm.
Music at Gretna's eclectic 17-concert season runs
through Sunday, Sept. 2 with the New Christy Minstrels, Boston Brass
(left) and New Black Eagles to a closing gala for the Audubon Quartet,
which helped launch the series 36 years ago. Click for details.
Picnic for Art
Show Volunteers: Tuesday, Aug. 21 at the Hall of Philosophy. Starting
at 6 pm and catered by Chef on the Go Becky Briody (right).
Better hurry if you want to catch a
Cicada show this season. Four of the six are already sold out. Still
with tickets left are The 1910 Fruitgum Company (Tuesday,
Aug. 7). "I'm surprised it hasn't sold out," says organizer Ceylon Leitzel. "They're
the original members of a rock n roll band that appeared on Dick
Clark's American Bandstand." Tickets: $13. Call 964-2046.
Also, the Simon & Garfunkel Retrospective Monday, Aug.
13 has a few tickets, "very few"
Leitzel emphasizes. (Tip: When you call, ask if tickets for other shows
were turned in.)
Where's the biggest show
anywhere around on Aug. 7? Cornwall Police Department's National Night
Out: helicopters, fire engines, hot dogs, hamburgers, rides, face
painting and games for the kids. Click for video.
Other newsletters of
Mt. Gretna Updates -- Issued as warranted to
alert local residents to such matters as temporary road closings,
utility repairs, shelter advisories for adverse weather and other
conditions affecting people who live in the seven neighborhoods served
by the Mt. Gretna post office. Send an e-mail request, with "LOCAL
UPDATES" in subject line, to
This Week in Mt. Gretna -- Issued during summer
months; a week-by-week listing of local events, sent by e-mail on
request. To add your name to the mailing list, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mt. Gretna Arts Council
Now available only online (no mailed copies). Updated to include news
concerning groups dedicated to the arts in Mt. Gretna, Calendar of
Events, Summer Premier and Arts Council scholarships.Click
Gretna Music bulletins -- E-mailed updates on
concert events, schedule changes and other news. See "Join Our
Mailing List" at http://gretnamusic.org/
Mt. Gretna Area Historical
Society Newsletter --
Online at http://www.mtgretnahistory.org/newsletter.php
Mt. Gretna Bible Festival
Mailed in the spring and fall without charge. Send request to Bible
Festival, P.O. Box 408, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.
Governor Dick Park
Online and by e-mail. See
Cornwall Police Department
E-Mail Bulletins --
issued as warranted to update residents on events of community
interest, including crime alerts. To add your name to the mailing list,
e-mail request to email@example.com
South Londonderry Township
Newsletter -- of primary interest to
Mt. Gretnans in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge; online
Campmeeting Newsletter -- Available online
and mailed to residents.
Mt. Gretna Heights
e-mailed to Heights residents. Address inquiries to Michelle Shay,firstname.lastname@example.org
A note to readers:
First, a note of gratitude
for all who wrote to express their appreciation for this newsletter
during the two months we were away. Although this is merely a
retirement pastime, perhaps not quite on a par with fishing, it's
nevertheless nice to have a hobby that others seem to enjoy as
Vacations, they say, are good for the soul. And while that's probably
true, after traveling through Europe for several weeks, it strikes me
that long vacations simply make me long most of all for the things I
already have at home.
Although the scenery along the Danube and Rhine rivers may often be
picturesque, what soon becomes evident on a leisurely cruise from
Budapest to Amsterdam is that the castles you see on Tuesday meld into
the cathedrals you visit on Wednesday. By Friday, the jumble of
memories -- towns, sidewalk cafes and palaces -- morph into a
kind of gilded goulash, and on Monday morning
Susie Afflerbach photo
it's time to start all over
again. After 18 days or so, there's the overwhelming sense that in
Europe, people tend to emphasize what was. We Americans prefer
to focus on what is, and what can be. That's a distinctly
different perspective, one that makes me glad to be back home.
Especially in Mt. Gretna, among good people and good friends.
So with this note of gratitude, I resume these monthly letters with the
hope that you'll continue to kindly indulge a retirement pastime, one
that gives me as much pleasure as flowers seem to give to Mary Hernley
(above) -- now in the 45th year of tending her stand along Route 117 on
summer weekends and who, as far as I know, never has taken a vacation.
Some people know when they're just exactly where they were meant to
-- Roger Groce
The Mt. Gretna Newsletter
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