DDA to raise funds for trout sculpture

BALDWIN — Members of Baldwin Downtown Development Authority are counting on support from the community to make construction of the world's largest brown trout sculpture a reality in Baldwin.

At the Baldwin Rotary meeting, Darci Maldonado presented a report on the financial progress already made for the sculpture, totaling $31,000 in donations.

"We decided to not use tax-payers dollars to fund this project," said Maldonado. "We decided to pay for it with donations and make it something the community can be involved in. It gives the community ownership. We are rather surprised at coming up with $31,000 already."

The DDA also plans to have kids involved with a contest to "name the fish," and give them an opportunity to donate change or pop cans toward the sculpture, she said.

The finished sculpture, designed by St. John's artist Ivan Iler, will stand across from the Lake County Historical museum on M-37 going into downtown Baldwin. The 25 feet tall and eight feet wide sculpture, which will be positioned on a base four feet in diameter and eight feet tall, commemorates the historical significance of Baldwin being the first place brown trout were introduced in North America.

"People go to where the "world's largest" is everywhere in the world. This sculpture will help bring people to Baldwin," Maldonado said.

Rotarian Leo Heska said the brown trout sculpture is an extreme idea, but said this is what it takes to draw more people into the area.

"There should be a plaque or sign at the sculpture site to inform visitors what downtown has to offer, so when they are looking at the sculpture, they will know more about the attractions and shopping experiences in the area," he said.

Debbie Smith-Olson, DDA member, reported the landscape around the sculpture will be designed to look like a river with grasses along the banks, and it will look like the trout is leaping out of the river.

People can donate directly by filling out a commitment form or online at ioby.org/worlds-largest-brown-trout-sculpture.

"If people are local, try to make the donations directly, because they take three percent charge on the donation website," said Smith-Olson.

Maldonado said the DDA will be happy to receive donations of any size towards the brown trout sculpture.

People who donate $200 to $999 will be a bronze donor recognized with a brick with their name on it on-site. Donations of $1,000 to $2,499 is the silver donation level. A fish with a donor's name will be placed in the sidewalk on-site. Donations amounting to $2,500 to $4,900 will be recognized as a gold donation level and a planting or bench with the donor's name will be placed on-site. $5,000 or more is Platinum donation level. A plaque with all names of donors at this level will be placed on-site.