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The mission of the Dogwood Center for the Performing Arts is to provide a welcoming environment where people can enjoy variety of arts, entertainment, and educational opportunities.
The opening of the $7 million dollar facility in July 2002 was a fulfillment of a dream that began with Dan and Dorothy Gerber. Scotti Merrill, the Gerber’s daughter, and long-time family friend Ted Johnson spearheaded the effort by forming the Art Center for Newaygo County, a non-profit organization dedicated to planning, building, and maintaining the Dogwood Center. Through grants from the Fremont Area Community Foundation and very generous gifts from community members, the Dogwood Center now is an incredible cultural venue and resource for the entire area.
The Grant Fine Arts is a performance venue and teaching facility operated by the Grant Public School District in Grant, Michigan. The facility is used for numerous events including musical and theatre performances, films, meetings, fundraisers, and other special events. Students of Grant Public Schools use this facility when taking educational classes on acting, music, and theatre technology, or when participating in one of the theatre's many events.
NCCA is always working toward their mission – “To promote the arts and enhance the cultural climate in Newaygo County and surrounding areas.” It is able to bring together people in a rural community and impact the area by providing a variety of opportunities and events. NCCA also provides a beautiful exhibition and consignment gallery, classrooms, photography darkroom, and pottery area in our refurbished (1998), century-old building in downtown Fremont. Our facility, not only a positive addition to the downtown area, is unique for any rural county.
It was in 1855 that a large-scale immigration to Newaygo County first started. People moved here because of the unbroken forests and the surrounding communities grew out of the lumber industry. Prior to that time this area was inhabited by Indians, wild animals and a few white trappers.
Author Sandy Vincent, genealogist and historian at the Fremont Area District Library writes in her book that “Pioneers in Newaygo County were motivated by the call of adventure and a chance to make a fortune in the vast wilderness. First settlers came to lumber the virgin white pine that grew in Newaygo forests. As early as 1837, Newaygo loggers were floating logs to market.”
Newaygo County lumber was used to rebuild Chicago after the great fire of 1871 and Big Prairie was unique in that it became a dust bowl from all of the clear cutting and established a unique desert in West Michigan.
Many communities became established based on the location of the saw mills and mill ponds. There were many families who ran saw mills – including the Gerber family – way before they first began making baby food.
The Croton Dam is the Grand Old Lady of Consumers Energy Company. She has been in continuous operation since 1907. The Scenic old red brick dam overlooks one of the Midwest’s best trout streams, the mighty Muskegon.
Gerber Baby Foods was founded in the year 1927 in Fremont, Michigan, by Daniel Gerber, owner of the Fremont Canning Company, which produced canned fruit and vegetables. At the suggestion of a pediatrician, Gerber's wife Dorothy began making hand-strained food for their seven month old daughter, Sally. Recognizing a business opportunity, Gerber began making baby food. By 1928, he had developed five products for the market: strained peas, prunes, carrots and spinach, and beef vegetable soup. Six months later, Gerber's baby foods were distributed nationwide.
The brand eventually became a major company in the baby food industry; it offers more than 190 products in 80 countries, with labeling in 16 languages. The main competitors are Beech-Nut and Del Monte Foods, but Gerber controls 83% of the baby food market in the United States.
Currently the Newaygo County Historical Museum, which exhibits the best artifacts of the cultural history of Newaygo County, Michigan, is being renovated. Watch for the re-opening of this gem located in historic downtown right beside the Muskegon River. The museum spans history from the Hopewell Indians to post Vietnam-era artifacts; it is truly a unique collection. Come on down and get a good grip on the history of our beautiful town. Our Newaygo County Society of History & Genealogy is being renovated - visit their website to learn more.
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