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Looking Back in MCAL History: September 2021

Forty-eight years ago in March of 1973, plans were being made by the Medina County Art League to sponsor the very first Art in the Park. A planning committee consisting of the president and chairperson Jean Nichols, Co-chairperson, Georgia Shy, members Jean Evans, Elsie Snyder, Barbara Gillette, and Marion Doyle, representing the Medina Historical Society.

They presented their proposal and received permission to hold the event from Mayor Fred Greenwood, the Medina Uptown Park Advisory Committee, The Police Department, and the Medina Chamber of Commerce. The date for the event was arranged for Sunday, July 22, 1973 – noon till dark, for one day with a rain date of July 29, 1973.

Several hundred brochures and applications were addressed and mailed by the committee and helpful League members. They sent them to painters, potters, and varied crafts persons both professionals and amateurs. Other community organizations were invited to be involved too as they would be a great asset to the cultural life and civic spirit of Medina County. Included were the Musical Arts Club, Welcome Wagon, Medina Rotary, The Masquers, and the Community Design inc.

This last group, under the direction of Elmer Zarney and Ken Lipstrew, were responsible for the uptown merchants upgrading their buildings and storefronts. In conjunction with Art in the Park, the Medina Historical Society had a “Walking Tour” of the historical homes surrounding the park including an open house at the Munson House which at that time served as the headquarters for the Historical Society.

The committee appreciated the advice and assistance of Elmer Zarney, owner of Zarney Graphics, who designed and donated hundreds of brochures using a Victorian theme to coincide with the recent renovations of the Victorian buildings surrounding the park.

A week before the opening, a poolside “Press Party” was held at the home of Jean Nichols. It was well attended and very rewarding as quite a bit of publicity preceded the opening. Color inserts of the Medina County Gazette featured articles of guest artists, maps, and layouts of all participating artists. Articles also appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal and announcements were made on the Radio Station WDBN and others!

The Saturday before the official opening, Fred Graff mapped out the placement of spaces for the exhibitors and with the help of the Uptown Park Committee and strong League members, snow fencing, and stakes loaned by the Medina County Highway Dept. was erected. The fence not only designated the artist’s space but was used for hanging the art on. There were no tents used at that time, but with card tables, easels,

and the snow fencing for displaying art and with artists demonstrating – Art in the Park took off. According to published accounts over 8,000 people visited, 5,000 purchases amounted to $10,000! Many encouraging letters and calls were received stating how much everyone enjoyed the exhibits, and the exhibitors were looking forward to 1974 for the second Art in the Park!

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