FRANKFORT — Donna Ervin couldn’t have chosen a better mascot for her made-in-Michigan products store than a giant “Petoskey stone” fish called "Rock Bass."
The 5 1/2-foot fiberglass fish painted to resemble Michigan’s distinctive state stone has invited double-takes in front of Ervin’s new Glenwood Market in downtown Frankfort since the store opened in May.
“You can stand there and watch the reaction on people’s faces,” said Ervin, also owner of The Glenwood restaurant overlooking Portage Lake in Onekama and of two other Glenwood Markets in Manistee and Pentwater. “They ask questions like, ‘Is this a real Petoskey?’ ‘Where did you find it?’ ‘What kind of a fish is it?’, like it’s a fish species. You just to have smile. He actually has a couple of worn spots from people touching him.”
The sculpture's story is no fish tale, though it has all the hallmarks of one.
“I’m telling the story quite a bit because people are coming in and asking about it,” Ervin said.
The fish was painted by artist William Hattendorf, of Onekama, as part of a 2007 Fish Out of Water auction for the Portage Lake Watershed endowment fund. It was one of 15 painted by Manistee area artists and donated to the fundraiser.
But first the fish — with names like Salmonenchanted Evening and Mojo Coho — were displayed at Onekama businesses including The Glenwood, where Hattendorf was a server.
“All the businesses got a fish to display for six weeks and ours was his," Ervin said. "Every day we took the fish out to the road and set him by our sign and every night we hauled him back in. He became part of the staff.”
When auction time finally arrived, the restaurant threw a going-away party for the fish, even taking pictures with it for a Christmas card, she said.