Nicole Meyer-Foresman’s “Tribute to the Amazon Army” bucket didn’t actually weigh in at 16 tons, nor was it full of No. 9 coal, but that didn’t stop SEK Art Fest volunteers from humming a few bars of the classic tune as they unloaded the bucket and placed it on the west side of Broadway just north of Second Street Friday morning.
The bucket, which is done in clay, actually is closer to 300 pounds, but portrays a notable piece of Southeast Kansas coal mining history and calls to mind the song with its story as well as its weight.
“Tribute to the Amazon Army” and 23 other buckets that visually define “what makes Southeast Kansas great” made the journey from the Miller’s airport hanger to downtown Pittsburg early Friday morning, and the buckets now are in the locations where they will be displayed throughout the remainder of the summer.
“I think it went very smoothly,” said Steve Robb, the festival’s coordinator and the one who originally envisioned the event a little more than a year ago. “I was pleased with the number of people who came out to watch.”
Final placement work continued throughout the day, with additional weight added to the bases of the buckets for long-term stability.
“We still have to put sand bags in the bases,” Robb said.
At least one volunteer showed up to get a long-awaited view of the buckets.
Devin Gorman, who also is the vice president for the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, said he has been looking forward to seeing the buckets for a while.
“I was excited, first thing in the morning, to get up and see something you don’t see every day,” he said, adding that the opportunity was well worth the early start time. “This is the first chance I’ve had to see the buckets, and they are spectacular.”
“The SEK Art Fest and the coal buckets are just a great thing for the Pittsburg area,” Gorman continued.
Downtown district coordinator Jeff Wilbert agreed.
Page 2 of 2 - “I think it’s going to be great,” he said. “This is going to be marketed throughout the area. The impacts could be tremendous, from the eating establishments to the community establishments.”
Wilbert encouraged residents to take a walk down Broadway to see the work.
“The Art Fest committee and Steve are really to be commended,” Wilbert said. “I think it’s just tremendous.”
Franklin’s Miners Hall Museum also may receive a boost from the presence of buckets.
Robb selected to have Kristina Crawford’s “Everyday Resonates,” which he underwrote, at the Miners Hall Museum, and a bucket by Rhona Shand will begin its travels at the museum, but then move around the region to promote the festival.
“I was just stunned by the talent,” said Phyllis Bitner, director of the Miners Hall Museum and a member of the festival steering committee.
She said she hopes the museum will end up with a number of the buckets on display long term when the festival is over and buckets have been auctioned.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “We hope that we can have at least six of them purchased at the auction and donated to the museum.”