‘The Opera House Rocks’ shows support

Two longtime supporters of the 1891 Fredonia Opera House have put their time and talents to use in a unique way to help support the local theatre. Carmen and Dick Gilman, who have been involved with the Opera House since 1985 when the Fredonia Preservation Society began a nine-year restoration of the local theatre, have created a “herd” of rocking horses in a project dubbed “The Opera House Rocks.”

The Gilmans hand-crafted 10 traditional-style rocking horses that are being offered as free thank you gifts to anyone who donates $200 to the Opera House Folk in Fredonia Music Series. Made of pine, the horses are patterned after a rocking horse that the Gilmans purchased in Maine more than 50 years ago as a gift for their then toddler daughter. The original horse was handed down to their grandson and, the Gilmans hope, will be passed along to their great grandchildren.

Dick, a retired geology professor at SUNY Fredonia, fabricated the horses, while Carmen, an artist, painted them. Well known locally as folk musicians and former members of the folk group The Newton Street Irregulars, the couple founded the Folk in Fredonia Music Series at the Opera House 19 years ago and continues to support it annually.

“When Dick and Carmen came to us with this herd of horses they had created and the offer to use them as a way to raise funds for the Opera House, we knew that they would be a perfect means to help support the Folk in Fredonia Music series,” said Opera House Executive Director Rick Davis.

The horses are given as a free thank you to anyone who gives a $200 donation in support of the series. The Folk in Fredonia Music Series presents three or four concerts each year of traditional roots-based or ethnic folk-based music. This year’s Series begins this Friday with Songs for a Winter Night a Folk in Fredonia Holiday Concert, and continues in the spring with the Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble on Friday, April 11, and Joe Crookston & the Bluebird Jubilee on Friday, May 2.

Contributions to the Series can be made by contacting the Opera House Box Office at 716-679-1891, Tuesday through Friday, 1-5 p.m. The 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported, not-for-profit organization located in Village Hall in downtown Fredonia. For a complete schedule of events, visit