Budget cuts in education have forced many schools to cut back on their extra-curricular offerings, such as art classes, but after almost ten years, the Boyertown community is still providing an outlet for the creative.
Bear Fever is an initiative that started in 2003 by a former art teacher to connect students to their community. Funded by a grant and, with the support of local businesses the program is still running strong. In September, Bear Fever will celebrate its tenth anniversary.
“Supporting the local community is important,” says Jeff Graber, “for businesses and for our students. It is where we work, where we eat, and where we live.”
Graber has been handpainting and lettering since he was a 17-year-old student of the Boyertown Area School District.
Since Bear Fever began, Graber has painted at least two bears a year for various local businesses. He also painted the official Bear Fever Bear, which sits on Main Street in Boyertown.
In the past six months, three new bears have been ordered for the community. Currently, there are approximately thirty-five bears in the Boyertown Area and that number is constantly growing.
Graber thinks the growing support in the community is aiding the small town’s economy. He is also a member of Building a Better Boyertown.
“People need a reason to stop in town to see what we have to offer. The bears give us that ‘wow’ factor. They draw people in.”
Jeff Graber is the founder and owner of Graber Letterin’ Sign Company. His business is open weekdays and can be found outside of town, behind Earl Elementary School. When he isn’t painting the bears or working, you can find him at Grandview Race Track.