Bonham Theatre Project volunteer Susie Patton of Fairbury helped serve soup and sandwiches to over 150 attendees at the “Bowls For Bonham” soup and sandwich luncheon sponsored by Bonham Theatre Project. Supplemental funding was provided by Thrivent Financial. For more information log on to www.BonhamTheatreProject.org.
Fairbury’s downtown district contains a wealth of artistic architecture, antique relics of a bygone era. Inside on of those old buildings, artwork of another kind jarringly takes us back in time.
The Class of 1963 held their 50 year reunion August 9-11. As a part of their Saturday night meal they held a silent auction to raise money in honor of deceased classmates. The funds were then donated to Bonham Theatre Project. Board member Gene Thomas graduated in 1963 and attended the event and promoted awareness of the project, now in its early stages of redevelopment. According to Thomas, “It was a lot of fun and the money raised goes to a great project. The Bonham Theatre was a large part of all our classmates’ memories.”
According to Class of 1963 member Kent Davenport of Lincoln. “The Class of 1963 is pleased to donate $1,963.00 to the Bonham Theatre Project in memory of our deceased classmates. We raised this amount primarily in a silent auction. Many of our classmates brought items from the area in which they live, and all the classmates bid on them. We are proud we raised $1,963 and challenge other classes to raise money at least equal to the year in which they graduated.”
The Bonham Theatre Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to reopen the historic Bonham Theatre in downtown Fairbury as a movie and entertainment venue. Information about the Bonham Theatre Project can be found online at www.BonhamTheatreProject.org and on Facebook.
The Fairbury Pizza Hut will be hosting a “fun”raiser event to benefit the Bonham Theatre Project on Monday, August 5th from 4 – 9 p.m. That evening, the Fairbury Pizza Hut will donate 20% of sales to the Bonham Theatre Project’s Capital Campaign to raise funds for the restoration of Fairbury’s historic movie theatre.
According to manager Amber Pierce, the Fairbury Pizza Hut Restaurant coupons will be available for dine-in and carry-out purchases that evening. Patrons presenting coupons at time of purchase will have 20% of their purchase donated to the project. Coupons are available online, at the Fairbury Chamber of Commerce or at the Fairbury Pizza Hut location. “Pizza Hut is proud to be part of the Fairbury community and we look forward to the opportunity to be involved in this very important project,” stated Pierce.
Bonham Theatre Project board members and volunteers will be on hand that evening to visit with patrons and provide updates about the project. “We are still looking to recruit more members, collect information and photos of the Bonham Theatre and we invite everyone to eat at Pizza Hut that evening and share your memories of the theatre with us,” according to BTP board member, Debby Ebke. “We appreciate Pizza Hut’s commitment to our community and look forward to this event.”
The Fairbury McDonald’s Restaurant will be hosting a fundraising event to benefit the Bonham Theatre Project on Tuesday, June 25th. On that day, the Fairbury McDonald’s Restaurant will donate 10% of sales to the Bonham Theatre Project’s Capital Campaign to raise funds for the restoration of Fairbury’s historic movie theatre.
The Fairbury McDonald’s Restaurant opens at 6:00 am and 10% of all sales for the entire day (drive thru, dine in and carry out) will be donated. “McDonald’s is proud to be part of the Fairbury community and we look forward to the opportunity to give back to the community,” stated Jim Pike, owner.
Bonham Theatre Project board members and volunteers will be on hand that day during peak hours to visit with patrons and provide updates about the project. “We are still looking to recruit more members, collect information and photos of the Bonham Theatre and we invite everyone to eat at McDonald’s that day and share your memories of the theatre with us,” according to BTP board member, Debby Ebke. “We appreciate McDonald’s commitment to our community and look forward to this event.”
McDonald’s has been a part of the Fairbury community since 1983.
Large white envelopes will be showing up in the mailboxes of residents of Fairbury and Jefferson County, Nebraska and in Washington County, Kansas. Those envelopes – over 6,400 of them – contain an assessment survey sent out by the Bonham Theatre Project board of directors. The goal of the survey is to gather vital information and ideas to help to shape the future of the Bonham Theatre, located in historic downtown Fairbury.
According to Bonham Theatre Project board member Brooke Schwab, filling out and submitting the finished survey helps provide the necessary community input required to help produce a viable business plan for the Bonham Theatre. The creation of an extensive, all-encompassing business plan one of the key elements required to apply for grants from outside foundations and economic development agencies. “The short survey has a lot of power in a few words and can make a big difference in securing outside funding for the project. It also helps us map a direction to pursue in setting the framework for reopening/renovating the theater in terms of what our citizens want to see,” Diane Schutt, president added.
The survey was produced in collaboration with UNK Center for Rural Research and Development, Shawn Kaskie, director. “Once all the surveys have been collected, UNK will tabulate the results and compile the findings for use in the production of a suitable business plan for the BTP,” Treasurer Debby Ebke said. The costs to produce and mail the survey were paid for in part through a grant from the Sherwood Foundation.
Completed surveys can be turned in at several locations, including Ray’s Apple Market, Starr-Buckow Insurance and all three branches of the First National Bank in Fairbury. In addition, junior and senior high school students will be asked to complete an on-line survey during their lunch periods to better assess what youth would like to see and use at the theaters, Schutt said.
Volunteers are needed to help with survey collection efforts. “Assistant Street Superintendant Laura Bedlan put together maps for our canvassing effort. If we can get 70-80 people to participate, collection of the surveys should be really fast on Sunday. We would like to work in pairs to cover routes in the city,” Schwab said.
Volunteers will be going door-to-door in the city limits of Fairbury on Sunday, May 5, starting at 1 p.m., to pick up the finished surveys. Completed surveys can also be taped to doors on Sunday for people who wish to provide input, but will not be home for the pick-up.
Those wishing to help with survey collection are asked to meet at the Bonham Theatre this Sunday at 1 p.m. For more information call Brooke Schwab at 402-587-0683 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or Diane Schutt at email@example.com. For more information about the Bonham Theatre Project log on to www.BonhamTheatreProject.org.
And The Survey Says…
The Bonham Theatre Project Board of Directors in April identified key project planning and development issues regarding community needs and market feasibility for the restoration and rehabilitation of the historic Bonham Theatre in downtown Fairbury. The survey results have now been tallied and will be published next week. “The community survey results are necessary to determine the direction and scope of the project and to lay the groundwork for grant applications,” according to board member, Julie Katz. For news, updates, photos and more, visit their facebook page, Click Here.
Don Burton lived in Fairbury with his single mother and older sister Dorothy between 1936 and 1942. For the first couple of years his mother owned and operated the Carmel Corn shop located in the corner lot north of the Bonham Theatre. Don and Dorothy (labeled by their mother as the “popcorn kids”) sold popcorn from trays strapped to their shoulders. Don remembers walking with his sister to the pavilion in the city park to sell the popcorn. He supposes they also sold to patrons of the Bonham Theatre since the theatre did not have a concession stand in the early years.
Don’s mother was forced by the city to discontinue her Carmel Corn shop, after which she held other jobs. One job was as a waitress in a café across the street from the Pla-Mor Lanes/Café. At times, the Bonham Theatre served as a babysitter for Don. Don was given admission money and allowed to attend the theatre. After the show he was to walk down the alley west to the café.
Don especially liked to attend the triple-western days at the Bonham. For one price (Don recalls 5 cents) you could stay all day and watch three westerns, or even watch the westerns a second time. During the war years, Don remembers the Bonham Theatre held drives for the war effort. Admission was a desired commodity such as sheet metal, iron, or used cooking oil.
One day in the years 1938-1940 when Don was 5-7 years old, Don attended a triple-western day and got locked in the theatre. As was the practice of many youth, Don usually sat in the front rows of the theatre. On this particular day he sat in the second or third row. He fell asleep and later woke to a dark, locked theatre. The ushers had apparently missed seeing him before they left for the night. Don made his way to the lobby only to find no way to open the doors from the inside. He attempted to attract the attention of passersby. Eventually a couple walking by noticed Don in distress in the locked lobby. Communicating through the glass doors, Don requested help and the police were called. The manager arrived to unlock the doors and Don sought out his worried mother.
Don wonders if he was the only child ever locked into the Bonham Theatre.
If you have memories of the Bonham Theatre to share, please contact Debby Ebke at 402.300.7146.
Runza donated 25 percent of one day’s sales in their Fairbury store to assist the fundraising efforts of the Bonham Theatre Project. Presenting the $1,148.75 raised that day to the members of the Bonham Theatre Project are Fairbury Runza Manager Tiah Berkness and Runza’s corporate Director of Marketing Becky Perrett.
Photo by Jim Headley
The Fairbury Runza Restaurant will be hosting a fundraising event to benefit the Bonham Theatre Project on Tuesday, March 12th. On that day, the Fairbury Runza Restaurant will donate 25% of sales to the Bonham Theatre Project’s Capital Campaign to raise funds for the restoration of Fairbury’s historic movie theatre.
The Fairbury Runza Restaurant opens at 10:30 am and 25% of all sales for the entire day (drive thru, dine in and carry out) will be donated.. “Runza is proud to be part of the Fairbury community and we look forward to supporting this historic restoration project. Movie fans of all ages will benefit from this effort for many years to come,” stated Becky Perrett, Director of Marketing for Runza National.
Bonham Theatre Project board members and volunteers will be on hand that day during peak hours to visit with patrons and provide updates about the project. “We are still looking to recruit more members, collect information and photos of the Bonham Theatre and we invite everyone to eat at Runza that day and share your memories of the theatre with us,” according to BTP board member, Gene Thomas. “We appreciate Runza’s commitment to our community and gratefully accept this generous gift.”
Runza Restaurants – famous for the Runza Sandwich with its delicious blend of ground beef, cabbage, onions and secret spices baked inside homemade bread, made-to-order hamburgers, and double dipped onion rings – operates and franchises 80 restaurants in Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa and Kansas.
The Bonham Theatre Project is planning its next fundraiser entitled, “Memories of the Bonham.” The event is planned for Friday, May 3rd from 7 – 10 p.m. at the Fairbury Elks Club at 525 G Street in downtown Fairbury. The event will feature the music of The Kramer Sisters, a musical variety group performing classic country, big band era and polka music, both for listening and dancing. According to BTP president, Diane Schutt, “there will be great entertainment, raffle prizes, door prizes and refreshments.” Tickets for the event are $5 in advance or $6 at the door and can be reserved by calling 402.300.7146.
The concept for the “Memories of the Bonham” theme was inspired by the many stories told to Bonham Theatre Project board members, including a letter sent to BTP treasurer Debby Ebke by Fairbury native Jim Chatelain. In his letter, Chatelain recalled many fond memories of the Bonham Theatre, including working there as an usher in his late ‘teens in the 1940’s under the management of Ira Crain. Chatelain donated $5,000 towards the restoration of the Bonham, to which he referred to it as “my old friend.” The scanned copy of the letter in Chatelain’s own handwriting is posted online and can be read in its entirety by clicking here to view PDF.
“Recognizing that the Bonham Theatre is not just a building but a special place where memories were made is a very important catalyst for wanting to restore, rehabilitate and reopen the movie theatre. Those stories and memories need to be collected and recorded for future generations – it’s a very important thread in the fabric of our community’s history and provides the basis for the mission of our entire project.” according to board member, Julie Katz.
Proceeds will benefit the Bonham Theatre Project, whose mission is to rehabilitate and reopen the historic Bonham Theatre as an arts and entertainment venue in downtown Fairbury.
For the latest information about the Bonham Theatre Project, find them on facebook – Bonham Theatre Project.