Gem City Sculpture Unveiled in Downtown Frankfort

Members of the Frankfort Future Leaders Advisory Council, along with Mayor Chris McBarnes and Lafayette sculpture artist Ben Sutter, crowd around the newest feature in downtown Frankfort.
This is the Gem City sculpture that was unveiled Thursday in downtown Frankfort between Pepe’s and The Farmers Bank. It, along with the Hot Dog bench, will become permanent fixtures to the downtown landscape.

The Frankfort Future Leaders Advisory Council unveiled its latest creation — the Gem City sculpture — Thursday in downtown Frankfort between Pepe’s Restaurant and The Farmers Bank.

Mayor Chris McBarnes said the young, talented, dedicated members of the FFLAC have been working with him the past several months studying Frankfort’s history as the Gem City to incorporate the community’s rich background into the design of the sculpture. With funding from the City Council and a generous donation by officials at NTK Precision Axle, this beautiful sculpture captures the essence of Frankfort.

Frankfort Future Leaders Advisory Council President Matt Snell, middle, addresses the crowd during the unveiling of the Gem City sculpture Thursday.
Lafayette sculpture artist Ben Sutter, right, addresses the crowd during the unveiling of the Gem City sculpture. Sutter was instrumental in making the sculpture. .

“Frankfort is making a comeback,” said McBarnes. “We’ve got young people involved, engaged and excited about our city. In the long term, that’s what it’s going to take. Getting our young people to believe in the city, take ownership in the city and give back to it just like this Gem City sculpture does adding quality of place. I’m not worried about Frankfort’s future because of these young people.”

The sculpture is made of fabricated metal and was created by Lafayette sculpture artist Ben Sutter, who has ties to Clinton County. Sutter also created the two gateway signs that welcome people at the north and south entry points into Frankfort. In addition, he worked with FFLAC members to create the unique Hot Dog bench that was unveiled at last year’s Hot Dog Festival.

McBarnes said the Gem City sculpture and the Hot Dog bench will become permanent fixtures in the downtown landscape. He added the number of overall sculptures will grow to six early next year as new more signs will be unveiled.

“It’s been very incredible,” said council member Colton Crum about his experience in this group. “First and foremost, none of this would be possible without such a wonderful mayor. He has kind of facilitated this idea that the youth are coming up in the city and we can influence policy and change things and actually create things. That’s what has gotten me excited me about this group as well as many of my other members.”

McBarnes added that public art is a planned piece of the downtown revitalization strategy.

About 50 to 75 people attended the ceremony during the lunch hour Thursday.

Like sparkles on a diamond, the evening lights around the square illuminated the new Sculpture.
Evening on the Square in Downtown Frankfort. Photo by Russ Kaspar