ADAMS -- Whether it's a sheep, moose, bear or even a horse, the neighbors of Suzanne Little-Stefanik have become used to seeing large scale models of animals being dropped off at her East Road home over the last eight years.
But now there is a new member of this rotating menagerie: Since the middle of August, a large fiberglass catamount, or mountain lion, has been standing tall in the front yard of her home. Sometimes wrapped tight with a blue tarp, it has caught the attention of many motorists and pedestrians alike.
The seven-feet-tall, six-feet wide, 100-pound sculpture Stefanik is painting is the prototype for the Bennington (Vt.) Area Chamber of Commerce's "Catamount Prowl 2013."
The fundraiser will see about 50 fiberglass catamount sculptures decorated by artists and put on display in Bennington from May through October in 2013. The Prowl will start with an unveiling party May 22, and conclude with a gala and auction of the sculptures on Oct. 26, 2013.
According to Stefanik, her catamount is the first and will be used to promote and market the upcoming event, touring the state of Vermont. It will be on view for the first time sometime in November at a party for the artists who will be participating in the project.
Stefanik holds a record of painting 11 different animals for various communities in the region -- from Barnard, Vt., to Litchfield, Conn. -- but this time is definitely different.
On other occasions, she painted the animals in the middle of winter and had to either paint them in her garage or in her brother in law's larger garage next door. This is the first sculpture she has been able to paint outside in the warmth of summer.
The design of Stefanik's catamount is hand-painted with acrylic paint to be realistic. At the base of the sculpture are four scenes featuring Vermont landscapes representing the four seasons.
Stefanik's catamount will be finished by the end of the week.
"I'm happy with it," she said. "I hate to see it go, but there is no place to keep it."
The goals of the Catamount Prowl include hosting a street art event to support local artists, boosting tourism and raising funds for community reinvestment.
The Prowl is a successor event to the Moosefests of 2005 and 2009 and Palletfest in 2006 held in Bennington. For Moosefest in 2005, the Chamber raised $290,000, and $100,00 was raised from Palletfest in 2006. Moosefest 2009 raised $200,000.
For the month of September, the call for artists to make their mark on one of the catamounts is being held. In December, the artists will be announced and the blank sculptures will be delivered to those participants.
For more information go to www.catamountprowl.com.