Hormel and the sounds of music

Published 5:25 pm Saturday, November 9, 2013

By Holly Johnson

Hormel Historic Home

This article has two themes with a common thread. That common thread is MarySue Hormel Harris. MarySue came to town last weekend to support the piano competition that is named in her honor, so I have to tell you about the contest.

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It also happens to be Veteran’s Day on Monday and MarySue’s time also included a visit to the Veterans Memorial on Main Street, so I will tell you about that too.

Judges for this year’s Harris Piano Competition were Dr. Andrew Hisey of the University of St. Thomas and MarySue Hormel Harris.  Photo provided.

Judges for this year’s Harris Piano Competition were Dr. Andrew Hisey of the University of St. Thomas and MarySue Hormel Harris.
Photo provided.

First, the second annual Harris Piano Competition was a great success. Thanks to The Historic Paramount Theatre for allowing us to use the space for most of the day despite their need to create sets for the Matchbox Show. I am also thankful to the Austin High School students who spent their morning checking in the 41 participants. Many area piano teachers encouraged their students to participate, so I owe them gratitude as well. The overall winner in the Beginner and Intermediate Divisions, ages 6-11, was Zachary Bollingberg, and the overall champion in the Junior and Senior Divisions, ages 12-18, was Elissa Anthonisen.  Both youth are students of Lynee Larson of Austin. For a complete list of the day’s winners please visit the HHH website at www.hormelhistorichome.org.

During the public contest at the Paramount our special guests and judges, Dr. Andrew Hisey of the University of St. Thomas, and MarySue Hormel Harris, spoke about their passion for the arts and offered insight into various musical careers. MarySue expressed her love for Austin and her admiration of all the artistic opportunities that exist here. She is proud of the beautiful pianos that she has been involved in purchasing or restoring for the HHH and for the Paramount and feels strongly about supporting the arts in our town.

Prior to her arrival in Austin, I was contacted to see if MarySue might be interested in placing a memorial stone at our Veteran’s Memorial in honor of her grandfather, Benjamin F. Hormel, Sr. MarySue and her sister Anabeth were both interested and did not even realize that Ben Sr. had served in the military.

Our records indicate he was in the Army Infantry Company G stationed at Chickamauga, Ga., for about six months during the Spanish American War of 1898. Mike Ruzek and Norm Hecimovich were gracious enough to take MarySue to see the memorial, and she was impressed both with her hosts and with Austin’s recognition of so many service men and women.

MarySue’s father, whom she affectionately calls Daddy, Benjamin F. Hormel, Jr. also served our country. He was a Lieutenant in the Navy during WWII. MarySue and Anabeth are honoring both their grandfather and their father with a paver at the Memorial. Along with Ben Jr., and Ben Sr. a paver will be placed in the memory of Michael Hormel, MarySue’s brother, who served in the Air Force and was killed in action during Vietnam. Jay E. Decker, cousin of George A. and Ben, will also be recognized for his service. Other family members already recognized at the memorial include Jay C. Hormel and Geordie Hormel.

I always enjoy seeing Austin through another’s eyes and MarySue’s visit made me recognize, again, the great place we live in. Happy Veteran’s Day.

 What’s Happening at the HHH

 Autism Teen Night

6 to around 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 15

Autism Teen Night for kids in grades 6-12 at Pizza Ranch.  Community outing for young people affected by Autism.  Pre-register at the HHH. $10 per child.

 Social Concerns: Natural Holidays

10 to 11 a.m., Nov. 19

Presented by Jim Stiles of Super Fresh and his talented team. Learn how to add natural ingredients to your holiday baking and decorating projects.  They will even bring treats to share. Please give us a call to let us know you are planning to attend. 507-433-4243.

 Holiday Open House and English Tea

Nov. 22 and 23

For the 26th year the HHH will be fully decorated for the holidays. You are invited to tour and enjoy various entertainment and a traditional tea menu from 1 to 3:30 p.m. each day.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the HHH or online at www.hormelhistorichome.org.