A local doctor has earned a new title for himself and even more respect from the community he calls home.
Dr. David Hartung of Seymour was named the first Mr. Jackson County on Saturday night after winning over a packed crowd at The Pines Evergreen Room with his creative take on a classic rock ‘n’ roll song.
A total of nine local “celebrities” competed for the honor, in many cases stepping out of their comfort zone and revealing a side of themselves no one knew they had.
Coming in second place was Dave McNabb of Seymour, who showed off his talent and sophistication for telling stories and nailing tongue twisters. And third place went to Mike Hall of Seymour, owner of The Pines, who gave a gut-busting cooking demonstration dressed as the inimitable Julia Child.
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But the real winner of the night was the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts. The male pageant served as a new fundraiser for the not-for-profit organization, replacing the longstanding Artful Affair dinner and auction event.
At last count, $16,732 was raised through the Mr. Jackson County pageant, all of which will be used to keep the art center open providing services for area artists, arts education, and opportunities for instruction and arts appreciation in the community.
Each contestant was challenged to raise as much money as they could with Mr. Jackson County being the one bringing in the most. Hartung tallied up $4,112.70 in votes while McNabb brought in $3,000 and Hall raised $2,800.
Other contestants were former Seymour Mayor John Burkhart, current Mayor Craig Luedeman, city Councilman Matt Nicholson, Tribune photographer Aaron Piper, optometrist Dr. Nate Otte and Jordan Richart of the Pardieck Law Firm.
Darnell Dukes, director of SICA, said she was impressed by all the efforts and talents of the contestants and the support of the community.
“The contestants had so much fun, and we were extremely pleased with the crowd,” she said.
The art center is celebrating 25 years of promoting the arts not just in Seymour and the county, but in the region, attracting people from other Hoosier communities and from out of state.
“Art is tourism and tourism is good for the economy,” Dukes said. “It’s good for all of us in Jackson County.”
But still a lot of people living right here don’t even know the art center exists, Dukes said.
“I think Jackson County should be very proud that we have an art center like this,” she said.
Besides the galleries, the center also offers a print museum with working antique press, a pottery barn and an outdoor stage for live performances. During the summer, SICA serves more than 100 kids through art camp and for the past three years, ballet classes have been offered.
The center is funded completely through its memberships, donations and sponsorships, class and program fees, grants and fundraisers.
“We do not get money from the government, and we are not a part of the United Way,” Dukes said.
Although the property is owned by Seymour native and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp, Dukes said the center receives no additional financial support from him.
All nine contestants participated in an Express Yourself introduction round, performed a talent and contributed a piece of original artwork, which was sold as silent auction items during the show.
Otte’s painting of the Eiffel Tower brought in the highest bid, earning him the Mr. Picasso congeniality award.
Finalists Hartung, McNabb, Hall, Luedeman, Otte and Richart also had to answer a question from master of ceremonies Curt Nichols.
But the talent portion of the event was the most entertaining part of the night.
Talents ranged from storytelling to golfing to riding a unicycle to breaking boards with bare hands to unusual workout habits and writing and performing original music.
Rewriting the lyrics of Don McClean’s “American Pie,” in just a couple of days and playing the guitar, Hartung sang about all the qualities he has come to love about living in Jackson County, including John Mellencamp, the Reno Brothers, Oktoberfest and Katie Stam.
Although he’s only lived here a little more than a decade, Hartung said he and his wife, Monica, and three children have no plans to leave.
“Not being from here, but calling this home, it’s been amazing to have the support of the community,” he said.
For his expression wear, Hartung chose to wear a silver sparkly suit jacket befitting of a game show host or cruise ship lounge singer with a “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor,” T-shirt underneath.
“It was so much fun, and how many places can you wear this jacket?” he said.
The most rewarding part of the night was having the crowd sing along with his lyrics, he added.
“I hope it’s on video somewhere, because that was great,” he said.
The Hartung family strongly supports the art center taking part in summer art camp, preschool art classes and art lessons for the kids and attending Friday Night Live concerts.
“We’ve had birthday parties out there and my old band even performed in the Friday night concert series,” he said. “So when Darnell asked, it was like of course I would love to help out.”
Winners in the inaugural 2016 Mr. Jackson County pageant
Mr. Jackson County – Dr. David Hartung
Second place – Dave McNabb
Third place – Mike Hall
Mr. Picasso – Dr. Nate Otte
Southern Indiana Center for the Arts
Hours: noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, or by appointment
Located at 2001 N. Ewing St., Seymour
Phone: 812-522-2278 or Email:email@example.com