CHATHAM – It's official: Whales are more popular than sharks.
Or, at least, people were willing to pay more for the painted and decorated whales on exhibit in Kate Gould Park this summer than they were for the sharks that populated similar displays in the past.
Auction of the whales in this year's Chatham Merchants Association-sponsored Art in the Park brought in a total of $82,480, which beat out the previous record for the event, the 2018 Sharks in the Park display, which earned $73,004.
This is also the first year that all of the pieces have received bids in the online auction, said organizer Janice Rogers.
“What is heartening is the reaction from winning bidders,” she said. “Each one is thrilled to have been a winning bidder able to take home a whale. Chatham means a great deal to them.” There were 50 whales sold in total, along with a “Welcome” sign by Chatham Wind and Time. Like the sharks, all of the whales were cut out of Versatex, wood-like composite material, by Stello Construction.
The highest bid was $4,550 for the whale painted by Susanne Taylor for the Chatham Coronavirus Fund. In 2018 a shark went for $5,000, but this year the bids were higher all around, Rogers said, with four whales selling for more than $3,000, and another 11 receiving bids of $2,000 or more.
"The artists really went all out this year,” said Steve Wardle, owner of Forest Beach Design, who led a team of volunteers who set up the whales. “There were so many great entries, and great entries brought record bids.”
Individual artists receive half of the final bid price, with the merchants association, which is part of the chamber of commerce, using the other half to fund its annual events and programs.
Bidding is now underway for the Oars in the Stores, the subject of this year's Chatham Merchant Association scavenger hunt. There are 29 five-foot wooden oars, painted and decorated by local artists, all currently on display in local shops. Bidding at chathamartinthepark.org runs through Sept. 8. Scavenger hunt logbooks are available at the chamber of commerce's downtown information booth; the hunt runs through Labor Day, Sept. 7. Completed logbooks can be turned in for a prize and all entries will be entered in a raffle for a grand prize.