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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

Mt. Gretna, Pa. "Not a place, but a spirit."       Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)

No. 131                                                                                                         August 2012

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-Description: 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 personal.
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 wor
Description:, 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.

" factor, 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

as booth-sitters while artists take a break. Volunteer Stacy Margut ( heads the booth-sitter brigade and says she can use more helpers this year. So can information booth coordinator Scott Zellers (
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 sustainable. 



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,

               ambulance 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)


Biggest expenses: Advertising, $38,000; traffic and security police $17,000; parking lot rentals $14,000; buses $10,000; entertainers $7,000;  

Total revenues in 2011: $198,000 (ticket sales, food court rentals, artists' booth spaces, artists' jury fees).  


Numbers Description:

14 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 Canada.
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.

65 Paintings in one day by an artist to celebrate his 65 birthdays. Yes, Fred Swarr is at it again -- just Description: five years ago when he polished off 60 paintings on the occasion of his 60th birthday.
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 pm.
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-Description: summer picnic Saturday, Sept. 1. Description:

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 series.



The pumping station nobody loves

Unless you graduated with a degree in municipal waste management engineering, there's not much to love about a sewage pumpinDescription: 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.

Just 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 wants iDescription: to help turn the station from an eyesore into, well, if not a silk purse, at least something that will soften its appearance.  

Meanwhile, 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 other suggestions. 

Yanos 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.  

That 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,




Susie Afflerbach photo

Doodle: He did it HIS way 

The 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.

Thus 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 uncatchable.

Complaints 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.  

In 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 everyone.  

He 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-steDescription: 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.  

What 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?  

The 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. GretnDescription: 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 wingtips."  

Recent examples: @billgifford: In other news, I've apparently just bought a $28.80 chicken. #freerange ain't free.

And, 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?

The 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.   

Description: 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 20 yards.
But here's a s
Description: we liked, crafted for thoughtful motorists on that privately owned section of Lakeview Drive which extends from Conewago Hill to the highway.
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 

Add yet another distinction to the list of things that make Mt. Gretna unique in Central Pennsylvania. 

Grand Illuminations started over a centuryDescription: 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.

Description: 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.

Another Grand Illumination, held last month as part of a two-day Fourth of July oDescription:, spread throughout all of Mt. Gretna to honor the nation's birthday.  

Both 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. 18.


 Photographs by Madelaine Gray. 



Marie 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.



Updates & Stuff to 

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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 Description: 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.

TennisDescription: 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 Description:, 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.

Description: 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 Description:," 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 interest:

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,

Mt. Gretna Arts Council Newsletter -- 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 here

Gretna Music bulletins -- E-mailed updates on concert events, schedule changes and other news. See "Join Our Mailing List" at

Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society Newsletter -- Online at

Mt. Gretna Bible Festival Newsletter -- Mailed in the spring and fall without charge. Send request to Bible Festival, P.O. Box 408, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.

Governor Dick Park Newsletter -- 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

South Londonderry Township Newsletter -- of primary interest to Mt. Gretnans in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge; online at

Campmeeting Newsletter -- Available online and mailed to residents.

Mt. Gretna Heights Newsletter -- e-mailed to Heights residents. Address inquiries to Michelle Shay,



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 well.   
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 morningDescription:

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 be.   
                                                                                                                 -- Roger Groce



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