By DAVID GREEN
What started off last fall as a pilot program will become a year-long fixture for members and guests of the Fayette Fine Arts Council.
The program is called “The Seasons” and features a special event on the third Wednesday of each month.
The idea behind Seasons is to reacquaint citizens with their community by inviting them to go on a Ramble—tour area historical and cultural sites—and to meet for luncheons that focus on specific topics.
The pilot program involved eight to 10 people, with arrangements made only word of mouth.
“We wanted to see if there was any interest and to see if the format would work,” said Tom Spiess, who helped organize the program.
It was enough of a success to begin planning programs to cover all four seasons of 2013.
The first Ramble went into Hillsdale County to visit the Will Carleton Poor House. The Poor House was the designated destination, but there were several stops along the way, including the Hillsdale College arboretum, an old cemetery, an orchard and a “drive-by” visit to Lost Nations.
A meal is also included, and the Hillsdale visit featured lunch at the Hunt Club.
Some months the group will stay at home for lunch and a program at the Fayette Opera House. The first luncheon last fall featured Fulton County Historical Society Museum Director, John Swearingen, for a discussion about Native Americans who were displaced in 1840.
The second Ramble went to Hudson for a tour of the Thompson House, Sacred Heart Church, the Methodist Church, the Carnegie Library, and the Hudson Historical Museum. The meal was at Rumors.
The program is a lot of fun, Spiess said, but it goes well beyond entertainment.
“It has evolved into a learning experience,” said Colleen Rufenacht, who participated in the fall program. “My dream has been to have a place where those that are interested in local history can interact with each other. The short programs and driving tours are a wonderful base for this.”
The new slate of programs will start with a luncheon at the Opera House Feb. 20 with a discussion about the “ghost towns” of the area that no longer exist, such as Ontario, Power’s Station and Ackley Corners.
At the same time, participants will brush up on mapping skills and collect information about the travels of Fayette’s Ginnivan tent show.
A Ramble will travel to Hicksville and another to Adrian. A few afternoon programs may be planned in addition to morning departures
“We think we have plenty of places to go throughout the tri-state area,” Spiess said.
So far, participants have come from Fayette, Waldron and Bryan, but Spiess would like to see people from other communities join in.
“We want this to be open to the general public,“ Rufenacht said. “It is not just intended for Arts Council members.”
When planning for the series is more complete, destinations will be listed along with suggested clothing, the chosen restaurant and an approximate amount of money needed for the day.