Bennington Select Board Vice Chair Sharon Brush issued a warning that a Catamount has been seen wandering in the area. "He was spotted in the west end," she said, "talking to a certain moose and learning what a wonderful place Bennington is, so he’s decided to take up residence here."
Residents don’t have to worry about a dangerous predator roaming the streets of Bennington, although they should keep a look out for the newest sculptures from the Chamber of Commerce. The Catamount, part of Catamount Prowl 2013, follows in the footsteps of Moosefest 2005 and ‘09, previous sculpture installations sponsored by the chamber.
According to local officials, it was a no brainer to mount the cat. "The Bennington Events Committee came to us and said maybe we’d like to not do moose again," Chamber President Lindy Lynch said. "The Catamount was brought up, and we though it was time for a change. The Catamount is certainly significant to Bennington," she said.
The Catamount, a name that was shortened from Cat of the Mountain, was the origin mascot of Ethan Allen and the famous Green Mountain Boys, a group formed originally to defend land claims who later became decisive in the Revolutionary War. The group called The Catamount Tavern its home.
The unveiling of the prototype cats, made by fiberglass sculptor Patrick Keough, occured at the former site of the Catamount Tavern in Old
"We’re really pleased to launch the year of the Catamount, "The Catamount Prowl," Old Bennington Trustee Arnold Ricks said. The more sponsors there are for the cats, the more fiberglass models will be reproduced. The overall sculpture is 7 feet tall and 6 and-a-half feet wide. There are 50 on order waiting for sponsors and area artists to decorate them. The completed statues will be unveiled in May 2013 and placed around town.
"The old tavern, famous in Revolutionary days and after," Ricks said, "burned down in the 1880s, but this symbol, the Catamount, cast in this noble form --defiently facing in the direction of the Yorkers -- is lodged in our conscieousness. It has captured the imagination of successive generations of Benningtonians and now we are going to celebrate and share it with the rest of the world throughout 2013."
"I thoroughly enjoyed working on the sculpture, and I really enjoyed working with everyone to capture the essence of the Catamount," Keough said. "The stance, the look, we wanted it to make an impression when people look at it, and I think we got that. I can’t wait to see what the real artists do with them once they get them. I’ve got the easy part, the artists do the real work, and I am glad to be a part of it."
"They don’t have to painted," Artist Committee Co-Chair Michelle Hogan said. "You can paste things on it or adhere things to it. We want this to be a project that people come back to and talk about for a long, long time."
To sponsor a cat or for more information, call 802-447-3311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.