Source: The Corydon Democrat

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Knotts fundraiser a win-win
My Opinion

by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor

November 12, 2013

Fundraisers are tricky. They are great when they are successful but can end up costing the host group when they're not.

There are many variables that fundraiser organizers have no control over, such as the weather and other activities and events that are competing for the time of those being targeted.

I'm pleased to say that the Nov. 1 fundraiser hosted by the Historical Society of Harrison County was a success.

You see, the group has taken the initiative to get a museum for our county which is rich in history. We have people visit here at various times throughout the year. Some guests come when the First State Capitol Building and other of the state historic sites are open; others come only to find they can only view a part of history from the outside.

The Corydon Democrat staff has openly given its stamp of approval for a museum. It's something that, once you stop and think about it, you wonder why it's taken this long to pursue such a thing.

(On a side note, it's nice to see that the Battle of Corydon Memorial Park Committee has taken it upon itself to have a museum of sort in the Emporium building, located at 203 N. Capitol Ave. in Corydon. At least for a few hours seven days a week there is a place where visitors can learn about a piece of our history and view an exhibit.)

Now, back to the Nov. 1 fundraiser.

Karen Schwartz, Society president, had bounced an idea off of me back in August. She had wondered what I thought about hosting Karen Knotts, daughter of the late Don Knotts (known by many as Barney Fife, his TV character, on "The Andy Griffith Show"), as a way to raise money for the museum. The Society has been awarded a grant from the Harrison County Community Foundation, which will match funds collected for the cause.

The connection seemed like a great fit: People sometimes refer to our place here in Southern Indiana as "Mayberry," the fictional town where Andy was sheriff and Barney was his deputy. Some local churches have used teaching material based on the TV show to promote a Christian lifestyle.

A few weeks passed before I gave the conversation another thought (after mentioning it to a couple of people whom seem to have memorized every episode of "The Andy Griffith Show"), then I heard from Schwartz that Knotts would bring her one-woman show, "Tied Up in Knotts," to Corydon.

Promotions for the show began and ticket sales seemed to be slow. (An outside agency was handling online sales so numbers weren't as readily available as they were at the Blaine H. Wiseman Visitor Center in Corydon where tickets also were being sold.) I admit, I was beginning to worry that the fundraiser would be a flop. Not only would the Society suffer a loss, I wondered how Knotts would feel performing in front of a handful of people.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the Corydon Central High School auditorium about half full. It also was reassuring to hear that the Society was "in the black" for the event. (Sponsorship from Lucas Oil also helped.)

The audience was made up of many Harrison Countians but also included people from Paoli, Madison and Evansville (those were just the places I heard mentioned). They were treated to a show that not only gave insight to a TV show that aired from late 1960 to early 1968 (and lives on in reruns), but Knotts talked about what it was like to have an actor for a father, what some of the TV cast members were like and how she has pursued her own acting career.

After her 90-minute show, she graciously returned to the stage and answered questions from the audience. Then, she met with attendees in the lobby, posing for pictures and signing autographs.

It was Knotts' first visit to Indiana, despite the fact that her mother was from Boone County, northwest of Indianapolis. Not only did she receive a warm, Harrison County welcome, she was treated to a showcase of many of our area's highlights, including the Overlook restaurant, Zimmerman Art Glass, Battle of Corydon Memorial Park, the Corydon Jamboree, the Artisan Center, Frederick's Café and all the stops on the A to Z walking tour of Corydon, by one of our best tour guides, Schwartz.

As a fundraiser, it was a win-win for all involved.