Marigold Days yields a couple of gems
A couple of gems have flourished out of last weekend’s Marigold Days in Mantorville.
On Saturday night, organizers of the town’s annual festival gave out two gem awards—historic and present.
The historic gem went to Willis E. Fryer, who moved to the Mantorville area in the early 1900s. He set up property just south of town where he developed a mass of plants and flowers.
Fryer is credited with personally transforming 40 acres of bare prairie into one of the beautiful spots of the wilderness with trees, shrubs and flowers. He had a national and international reputation in the horticultural world.
He was regarded as a “hardy plant and gladiolus specialist.” Fryer wrote a book highlighting the various flowers he planted at Mantorville.
At one time, Fryer had 500 different varieties of Irises. Fryer had established contacts with wholesalers from all over the world in his quest to beautify the area.
Visitors came from all over the world to visit the Mantorville area.
Fryer died in 1930 at the age of 65.
Accepting Fryer’s gem award were descendants of Fryer’s, Todd Fryer and Judy Fryer-Severtson.
The present gem was presented to Ron Hunt. He is an artist who has drawn many of the pictures of Mantorville.
Hunt, who was raised outside of Mantorville, moved to the county seat in 1972 to open Suzy’s Shoppe. His involvement in Mantorville quickly expanded beyond the store. Hunt was elected president of the Mantorville Restoration Association within the first year he moved to town. He started the Mantorville Chamber of Commerce. He also had a hand in establishing the Mantorville Theater Company and get a boardwalk installed that stretched more than a mile.
“He spearheaded the revival of Mantorville in the 1970s,” said local resident Mary Lee Lamberg.
Hunt and author Suzy Hoven have written a book, “Welcome Back to Mantorville.”
In presenting Hunt with the gem award, organizers said, “He became a pillar of the community when he moved to Mantorville.” They also credited Hunt with bringing “thousands of people” into Mantorville through his efforts of tourism.
“I am absolutely flabbergasted,” Hunt said in accepting the award. “Mantorville is still very much in my heart, and it’s wonderful to be recognized” he said, noting the community is made up of hardworking and honest people.