KMA Summer Party Celebrates 50 Years of the Art Fair

Two Significant Gifts are Made to the Community

By Aeron Noe

This year, the annual summer party of the Kings Mountain Association (KMA) took on greater significance as the community came together to celebrate an important milestone for the Art Fair: the 50th anniversary in 2013.

Held on Saturday, July 13, the event was a smashing success. Somewhere between 250 and 300 people showed up for the special presentation by members of the Art Fair Board, including Executive Director Dawn Neisser, President Marty Eisenberg, Treasurer Lisa Parral, and former Executive Director Sybil Plank, and delicious dinner.

The walls of the community center were lined with posters and memorabilia from previous art fairs, while a historical slide show organized by Bill Goebner and Steve Johnson, played in the meeting room. An honor roll listed more than 1200 volunteers who have volunteered over the years, and more than 200 Mountain Folk artists, while guests to the party were invited to add to the list by writing names on a white board. 

Wine glasses commemorating the event were handed out - and used! - while neighbors and old friends mingled. Some important Kings Mountain alumni, so to speak, returned for the festivities, including Lynn and Bob Seaby and Glen and Regina Ruby. Also, many of the people who were involved in the early days of the fair, as artists or chairpeople or directors, were present, including Zanette Cornman, Vi Croop, Sybil Plank, Ardyth Woodruff, and Rebecca Holland.

Perhaps the highlight of the night, though, was the presentation made by the current Art Fair Board. For the 25th anniversary, the board donated an etched glass window to the community center, which people can still see and appreciate. This year’s gift was perhaps more significant, although it might be a little less visible to future generations. Presenters spoke from the firehouse balcony, while the community listened from below. Jaws dropped in the audience as the gifts were announced.

First, Lisa Parral gave a touching speech, leading up to a one-time gift of $100,000 to the Kings Mountain Associated Parents, to benefit our elementary school. Lisa’s presentation was especially poignant given her strong history with the school. She oversaw the parent leadership group for many years while the school not only struggled to survive in the face of budget cuts, but also constructed a new building, now known as the Lion’s Den. As current president of KMAP, I had the honor of accepting this gift, along with KMAP Treasurer Anna Roesch-Tubbs who in addition to being a KMES alumni and parent of a current student, is also the daughter of the late Don Roesch, a long-time Art Fair volunteer and leader.

But the gift to the school was just a prelude to an even bigger gift.

President of the Kings Mountain Art Fair Board, Marty Eisenberg - who also co-chairs the grill for the fair - made a second presentation. Marty’s speech climaxed with the giving of a $400,000 endowment to the Kings Mountain Volunteer Fire Brigade. This gift was accepted by KMVFB Chief Jim Sullivan, President JR Elpers, and Treasurer Darrin Jewell. This gift is intended to provide security for the fire brigade for many years to come.

It may sound a little cheesy to admit it, but I had tears in my eyes at this event, and I don’t think I was the only one. As a relative newcomer to the mountain - I have only been here seven years - I am staggered by the incredible sense of community responsibility, and the importance of what we achieve together, primarily through the operation of the Art Fair.

I never knew Jean Cole, one of the founders of the fair and the first executive director of the event, or her husband John who donated the architectural design for the firehouse/community center, but I feel like their spirit is very much alive on Kings Mountain today. And I can only imagine how proud they would be to have witnessed the gifts that were made at this historic Kings Mountain event.

Finally, a huge thank you to the individual people who organized this event: Art Fair Board Member Betsy Rix, Art Fair Treasurer Lisa Parral, KMA Board Member Kathy Shubin, and former KMA Board Member Kerry Kemling.