Sunday, June 16, 2013

County Fair, Schuch Hotel ghosts and Sonny Stitt on 2013 Saginaw Humanities Series.

by janet i. martineau

“Saginaw’s Soul & Spirit” is the theme of the 2013 Saginaw Valley Humanities Series -- entering its 33rd season of lectures presented at 7:30pm Tuesday evenings at the Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy, 1903 N. Niagara in Saginaw.

This year the free fall series visits the Saginaw County fair, the world of jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt, and the mysteries of the Schuch Hotel in Old Saginaw City.

The schedule is as follows:

-- Sept. 10, “The Saginaw County Fair: Celebrating 100 Fairs 1914 to 2013,” presented by Roselynn Ederer.

A group of Bridgeport farmers planned and executed the first four-day fair which took place in October 1914, and by the 1950s it was such a popular fixture on the city landscape it ran for eight days and was considered the largest county fair in America east of the Rockies.

A decline, however, began in the 1970s as attendance dwindled, until in the 1990s it was downsized to five days and moved to a rural location in Chesaning,

Roderick J. Bieber
Ederer has penned a anniversary fair book, her 13th book dealing with local history. In 2012 her “Indiantown” tome won a State of Michigan Historical Society award. She is retired from a career with the Social Security Administration.

-- Sept. 17, “The Schuch Hotel: Its History, Mysteries, Antiques and Ghosts,” presented by owner Michael Perry.

This familiar eatery/bar on Hamilton opened in 1873 and through the years has carried the name Benson House, Crowley House and, in 1912, Schuch Hotel -- filled with owner John P. Schuch’s collection of historic artifacts, theater programs, Saginaw memorabilia and beer steins. Also popular in his era  was peanut night -- when patrons just deposited the shells on the floor.

Perry became the proprietor in 2004, and capitalizes on the mysteries and ghosts in the hotel part of the establishment. He has lived within blocks of the Schuch all his life and has worked there since 1959.

-- Sept. 24, “Rotary Club of Saginaw Announces Its Centennial Year,” presented by club president Roderick J. Bieber.

Sonny Stitt
This Rotary Club of Saginaw became the 93rd member of Rotary International on Feb. 1, 1914 -- an organization which now has 34,400 clubs in more than 200 counties.

President Bieber will trace some of the club’s community projects  over the years (the purchase and founding of Camp Rotary being one of them) as well as talk about the achievements of some of its members.

Bieber plays violin with the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra, co-conducts the Saginaw Bay Youth Orchestra, is music/choir director at First United Methodist Church, and hosts the Delta College public radio show “Backstage Explorer.”

-- Oct. 1, “The Life and Times of Sonny Sittt Through Words and Music,” presented by Bo White and Jeff Hall.

Edward “Sonny” Stitt (1924-1982) grew up in Saginaw and became one of the best-documented saxophonists of the bebop/hard bop idiom -- recording more than 100 albums and performing with such jazz greats as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Billy Eckstein. He was inducted into the Saginaw Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Michigan Music Hall of Fame in 2013.

White, the owner of White’s Bar, will talk about Stitt’s life and music. And saxophonist Hall, who performed with Stitt after a by-chance meeting in 1972 in a Detroit lounge, will perform some of his music.

Hall is an artist-in-residence at Saginaw Valley State University and director of its jazz ensemble. He has toured with several world renowned musicians and at jazz festivals worldwide.

Adriel Ruben, left, and Todd Farley
Stitt’s daughter is expected to attend the program

-- Oct. 8, “Saginaw’s Mimes, Masks and Miracles,” presented by the Rev. Todd Farley and Adriel Ruben.

Farley is the senior pastor at First Congregational Church in Saginaw. He studied mime with  Marcel Marceau  and, for a number of years, toured internationally with a group he founded which combined mime and ministry.

Ruben hails from Brazil, and has performed as a dancer  in mime and comedia del’arte in a Brazilian circus and in American and Russian dance theaters.

Together Farley and Ruben will perform inspirational stories from afar and from here at home through mime, dance, circus and storytelling

Also performing with them are students from the Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy, Heritage High School, Saginaw Valley State University and Delta College.

A musical prelude starts at 7pm during each of the programs, and cookies and beverages follow.

The series is funded through a grant from the Maxwell K. Pribil Memorial Fund administered by Citizens Bank Wealth Management and from contributions to the Saginaw Valley Historic Preservation Society.

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