As Pam Bates looked up at the nearly completed “The Most Amazing Harvest” mural in downtown Galva Saturday afternoon, she used two words multiple times to describe the work of art and the event it portrays.
As Pam Bates looked up at the nearly completed “The Most Amazing Harvest” mural in downtown Galva Saturday (Sept. 22) afternoon, she used two words multiple times to describe the work of art and the event it portrays.
Humbling and blessed.
“It’s amazing. It’s just humbling. I think Jason (Bates) said that it started with Carl, but it’s really about the community coming together and all those farmers,” Pam Bates said. “Hopefully we’ll get a picture with all of those that were involved that day.”
Pam’s husband, Carl Bates, was battling cancer and the dilemma of how to handle the harvest of 2015 in his declining health. That’s when the farming community in Galva and surrounding area came together.
Carl’s cousin, Dan Bates, also wondered how they were going to harvest the 450 acres of corn on the farm. The farm community started talking, and on Sept. 25, 2015, 40 people worked 10 combines, 16 semis, and 12 grain carts to harvest the 450 acres in 10 hours.
That day and event — now dubbed “The Most Amazing Harvest” — is now depicted on one of downtown Galva’s most visible walls in a mural created by the Walldogs and made possible through, once again, the work of many.
“The first day I found out it was happening, it was an emotional day,” Pam Bates said of the harvest. “I was humbled and blessed all over again from that day. It was kind of surreal throughout that day. Carl wasn’t having a great day and we were trying to figure out what he could and couldn’t do. He insisted on going out there and thanking everybody at dinner. It was a big blessing.”
Carl passed away in November of 2015, but that harvest and the cooperation of the farming community now lives on forever in the new mural.
The idea put in motion
Michael Clark of Aledo was the point person for the Walldogs on the Galva mural.
“I was painting a wall mural with Cornbread (Scott Lindley) over in Kewanee — the Walter T. Bailey mural — and this gentleman from Galva named Gary (Armel) pulled up there and he said, ‘We need one of these in Galva.’ I said every small town ought to have a mural,” Clark replied.
“He (Armel) said I’m leaving right now, I’m going over to Galva to talk to the mayor and we’re getting something done,” Clark said.
“Of course, I figured he was blowing smoke,” Clark continued. “Then 20 minutes later, David Dyer called me, the city administrator, and said, ‘I understand you’re the man to talk to about a mural.’”
Galva Mayor Rich Nordstrom, Armel, Dyer and Clark gathered for lunch at Cerno’s in Kewanee to discuss the Galva mural idea. The discussion centered on creating the harvest image on the wall.
“We pitched him (Clark) the idea, and he was all in on it,” Nordstrom said.
Clark came up with a copy of the aerial photo of the harvest, drew it up and sent it to the Galva folks. The project was quickly green-lighted.
Clark, along with fellow Walldogs Lindley and Joy Hernandez-Butler, started the project Thursday (Sept. 20) morning and put the finishing touches on the 10-foot by 30-foot mural Saturday (Sept. 22) night. It was fitting that Hernandez-Butler was part of the Walldogs contingent — she wrote the original story on the event that garnered national attention.
“It’s just the farming community,” Clark said of how everyone joined forces to help the Bates family, “and the brotherhood they have for each other.”
Other key supporters in the project were Galva’s community organization, Galva: Ready to Grow, with financial support; Community State Bank and Kevin Yepsen; and Galva Family Dentistry with Scott Bialobreski and Clint Martin.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Mayor Nordstrom said of the finished product. “It’s kind of been a long journey to get there, but it was worth the wait.” The mayor hopes to have the mural lighted before winter arrives, and has designs on another mural being created next to “The Most Amazing Harvest” in the future.