Nappanee, IN - June 26, 2013 - S.R. 19 and U.S. Highway 6 intersect at the picturesque town square of Nappanee, Indiana, population 6,648, with a dentist office, coffee shop, candy maker, and high- end furniture consignment store filling each corner. When a passerby looks in any direction this summer, he will see a giant shiny apple pleasantly greeting the day's traffic.
Nappanee resident artist Jeff Stillson calls his dream vision turned reality, "Fruitful." His goal of seeing 20 - 4' fiberglass hand painted apples on display throughout his hometown has been exceeded by four. And orders by local businesses keep coming.
Cows on Parade in Chicago, Elk Art on Parade in nearby Elkhart, and Turtles Around Town, Mackinac Island, Michigan, inspired the mural painter/graphic artist to conceptualize a similar exhibition featuring apple halves paying homage to the local orchards and festival of this juicy fruit.
The list of 25 sponsors includes a wide representation of commerce, committees and civic organizations, plus the service sector, and an individual family trust. Amish Acres Historic Farm & Heritage Resort was one of the first to jump on board. The famous attraction chose to highlight its 'Top 10 America Cider Mills' with a design that states this designation on one side plus a proud peacock, just like the real ones preening around the 80 acres, on the other. The apple inside McCormick Motors showroom depicts the Heartbeat of America with a giant United States map leading to scenic stops like Mt. Rushmore, Old Faithful, Statue of Liberty, Hollywood, and Bourbon Street all from behind the wheel of a '56 Chevrolet. The Garden Club and the Tuttle Family Foundation stayed with a tried and true Red Delicious - so real looking, one's mouth waters on reflex. Scott Tuttle, owner of Livin' Lite RV, went so far as to add a bright green worm (bolted to the sidewalk) as a whimsical touch in front of His, Hers & More Barber Shop. Nappanee's Boys & Girls Club contest winner was Brooklyn Swihart. Her winning abstract design represents modern shapes and colors true to the budding generation.
Volunteer artists helping Jeff complete these unique canvases include professionals such as Branden Hochstetler and Casey Kiel to NorthWood Middle School art teacher Michelle Haab, to Jimtown High School senior Kelly McMillan and NorthWood High School students Karol Keller and Hayley Maggard, even Sunce Selcuk, an exchange student from Turkey painting an apple honoring the mayor and first-lady, Larry and Linda Thompson. Nappanee Public Library and the Nappanee Center (Evelyn Lehman Culp Heritage Collection) chose popular artists Kerri Bash and Mark Daniels from Spring Into Art, an annual Friends of the Library special event.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jeff Kitson is an advocate for many reasons: "Tourism is a vital part of Nappanee and with the addition of these artistic apples, Nappanee has another feather in its cap. We continue to grow as a destination because of unique projects like this one.” He, in fact, could be seen unloading the giant crates from an even bigger semi upon their arrival in late winter.
Visitors can start as far west as Amish Acres and work their way east to INterra Credit Union and Nappanee Family Eye Care, or start north at Kindig & Sloat Attorneys moving south past Jenkin's Automotive and Topping Dental Group.
A special thanks goes to Aluminum Trailer Company, Apple Festival Committee, B.I.D., Dairy Queen, Elkhart County CVB, 1st Source Bank, Hahn & Associates, McDonald's, Nappanee Chamber of Commerce, and Veni's Chocolates, all apple sponsors.