Bristol bares all in risque calendar for Holley Hall

BRISTOL — A group of Bristol residents have proven their willingness to bare all for Holley Hall.
This Saturday at the Bristol Harvest Festival they will unveil the “Bristol Au Naturel” calendar, featuring naked residents posed “discretely” at a number of favorite Bristol locales.
The calendar is the latest fundraiser for the Let’s Hear It for Holley Hall campaign, which aims to raise $70,000 to improve Holley Hall’s acoustics. The effort is led by community members Rick Ceballos, Deb Cossaart, Patrick Fitzsimmons, Darla Senecal and Carol Wells.
“We were sitting around thinking about fundraising ideas,” said Cossaart. “We had done a few concerts and storytelling times and stuff and we were just brainstorming.”
She told the group about a Nebraska “Men in Tights” fundraiser that had successfully amassed a lot of money for its small town.
“So we were discussing that and talking about men dressing as women and then we started talking about men dressing partially naked and then we thought of this calendar because of the ‘Calendar Girls’ calendar that came out many years ago and then the ‘Men of Maple Corner,’ Cossaart said. “We thought, ‘Oh, lots of other towns have done naked calendars; and they’ve made a lot of money on them,’ so we thought this could be a better fundraiser than having a concert!”
The great-granddaddy of all Vermont nudie-calendar fundraisers is the 2002 and 2003 Men of Maple Corner calendars, which together raised over $500,000 to benefit renovation of the Maple Corner Community Center in Calais. Those calendars featured men of all ages, buck naked (save for a strategically placed tool belt or hay bale) and engaged in such classic Vermont activities as haying, operating a sawmill or standing in a pond about to go canoeing.
Shoreham stripped down for its 2009 calendar, “Shoreham Uncovered,” to benefit the town’s Platt Memorial Library.
England’s “Calendar Girls” calendar is thought to have blazed the path in birthday suit fundraising. Their series of calendars, which began when a Yorkshire woman lost her husband to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, first came out in 1999. Originally the Yorkshire women just wanted to raise enough to put a sofa in the hospital’s lymphoma treatment area. They’ve now raised over £3 million pounds for leukemia and lymphoma research. And their phenomenal success has spawned a play, a feature film starring Helen Mirren and other British luminaries, and a musical.
Bristol area residents can expect to see lots of familiar places and faces and enjoy plenty of light-hearted humor. At Cubbers, the owners grip strategically placed pizza paddles while the caption declares “We like our pizza with nothing on it.” Staff at the Bobcat Café pose around the bar for an “Extremely casual Friday at the Bobcat.” At the Bristol Bakery, a naked woman wearing shoes orders a bagel, next to a sign reading “No shoes, no service.” That’ll teach ’em.
Gals at Yarn and Yoga pose while knitting some very large, and very well-placed, afghans. Other popular locales include Bartlett Falls and the Ledges.
Monkton photographer Buzz Kuhns did all the shoots and donated his time for the cause.
“We had a lot of fun,” said server Sarah Jean Luke, who was part of the Bobcat photo.
“I think we all thought we were going to be shy and then when it came to it we just had a ball and the people who were shooting it were really funny about it. We just had a lot of fun.”
In August, the committee won a $21,000 Cultural Facilities matching grant from the Vermont Arts Council. Fundraisers over the past year have included Moth-style storytelling events, a staged reading of “The Gin Game” and a contradance with Pete’s Posse. The combination of grants and fundraising thus far has earned the campaign over $50,000.
Organizers hope the calendar will bring in the rest of the funds needed to meet their $70,000 goal. Any additional funds raised, said committee members, will go toward further improvements for Holley Hall.
The acoustics campaign helps complete the renovation work the town began in 2009, said Let’s Hear It for Holley Hall committee member Carol Wells.
“There were structural issues, visual issues, handicap accessibility issues that were all addressed in that renovation. But one of the issues that was not addressed was the poor acoustics that have plagued the hall forever,” she said.
Wells noted that the hall’s acoustics are so bad that many musicians refuse to play there. The echoes can make it difficult to participate in town meeting, especially for those with hearing issues, and makes it difficult to enjoy concerts and performances.
“The group got together and said, ‘OK, we’re going to try to solve this problem and complete the renovation of Holley Hall and turn it into even a more valuable community resource than it is now.’ With better acoustics, we’ll be able to improve the programming, the hall can be used more by the town and the community and people of all ages and abilities will be able to enjoy the performances more,” Wells said.
“We think it’s a great addition to the community to have an acoustically wonderful town hall for everyone to enjoy.”
Wells is please with the way the “Au Naturel” calendar turned out.
“It’s hard to look at it without laughing,” she said.
Calendars will be available at the Recreation Department booth at the Bristol Harvest Festival, which runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, on the Bristol green. Local stores carrying the calendar will include Almost Home, Art on Main, Yarn and Yoga and Bristol Park Dental. The calendar will also have its own website at www.BristolAuNaturel.com.
Read more about the Bristol Harvest Festival in our Fall Foliage special section in this edition.
Reporter Gaen Murphree is at [email protected].

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