And more importantly, members of the community are back in large numbers to enjoy it all thanks to the group of dedicated volunteers who organized the Baiwoop Art Festival.
Under cloudless skies July 30, visual and performing artists from throughout the area set up shop amidst the beauty of Secrest Arboretum, to share their artistic talents with the hundreds of community members who flocked to Secrest to see for themselves that one of Wooster’s very special places is back and better than ever.
“We’ve come a long way,” said Gretchen Pleuss, one of the event organizers, who noted that the idea behind the festival was to design an event to encourage the community to come back to Secrest and see all that has been accomplished.
Just 10 months ago a powerful tornado tore through the campus of OARDC, leaving heavily damaged buildings in its wake.
One of the hardest hit areas was Secrest Arboretum.
The 130 mile per hour winds leveled approximately one quarter of the 120-acre arboretum, including a recently opened visitor pavilion, display gardens and more than 1,000 trees, some of which were more than 100 years old and had been planted by the arboretum’s founder - Edmund Secrest - himself.
In the wake of the devastation and the outpouring of support from the community for Secrest that followed, the Secrest staff has set about rebuilding one of Wooster’s treasures one tree and one plant at a time.
One of the people at the heart of the remarkable efforts to bring Secrest back to life was OARDC’s Matt Shultzman, who works closely with Ken Cochran, Secrest program director, to keep the arboretum in top condition.
“He kept talking about the tornado and the damage and how much we had accomplished so far,” said Pleuss, adding, “every day it’s a struggle and we were talking about what we could do to help.”
That’s when Jeshua Zeglen, a friend of Pleuss, came up with the idea of an art festival to provide “a place for artists to display their work – sell it if they want to – and for the community to get together.”
“Matt really liked the idea and I did, too, so we ran with it,” said Pleuss.
Starting in February the organizers began spreading word of the art festival to the local art community.
“We had a great response,” said Pleuss, noting that more than 30 visual artists and five performing artists took part in the festival.
And what exactly does “Baiwoop” mean?
It’s pronounced “bay-woop” and it doesn’t really have a meaning.
According to Shultzman, he and his friends were bringing up names of festivals they knew -- Woodstock, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza -- when someone came up with “Baiwoop.”
“It’s a made-up word that we thought would be catchy,” he said, “and we just went with it.”
As visitors strolled through the grounds of Secrest, they watched potters, painters, jewelers and other artists at work, listened to live music, added pieces to their own art collections and even took part in a drum circle.
They also took the opportunity to bid on art pieces donated by the artists during a silent auction to benefit the Secrest rebuilding fund.
“This whole event is to say thank you to the community because the community has really helped,” said Pleuss, noting that the organizers hope to make the festival an annual event.
“They had so much response after the tornado - just community members saying ‘what can we do to help?’ I think that made everybody that works here feel so much better about it,” Pleuss added.
Donations for the renewal efforts at Secrest are still welcome.
Donations can be made on line by visiting http://www.giveto.osu.edu/secrestfund or by mail by sending checks payable to “Secrest Arboretum, Fund #308772” to Secrest Arboretum Fund, OARDC, 1680 Madison Avenue, Wooster 44691.
For more information on Secrest Arboretum, visit http://secrest.osu.edu.
Published: August 3, 2011