Ozzie & Harriet by Nancy Bennett

Arcola was a thriving community in the early 1900s. The downtown featured an Opera House completed in 1912 that was the home to many live performances from local residents to prominent stars from that period.

One of the biggest draws downtown from 1926 until the onset of World War II was the “Homecoming” festival. The main attractions to the “Homecoming” festival were the performances of nationally known dance orchestras that performed including Coon Sanders, Paul Whiteman, Wayne King, Lawrence Welk, and Tony Martin. In August 1935 the featured entertainment was the Ozzie Nelson Band featuring a 15 piece orchestra and vocals by the lovely Harriet Hillard. The crowds arrived early by train from throughout Central Illinois with registered attendees even arriving from Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. Ozzie and Harriet were married later that fall in October 1935 and would later go on to star in the family oriented “Ozzie and Harriet” television show.

Nancy Bennett is the original Walldog, organizing the first meet in 1993 in Allerton, IA. Nancy and her husband Dan have been together over 40 years and currently live in Centerville, IA where they operate Dannco, Inc., a graphic design and sporting goods business. Nancy’s artistic talents have led her around the United States to paint murals, signs and even Michael Jackson’s Train at Neverland Ranch in California. Most recently, Nancy has been busy organizing the Walldog Public Art Not-for-Profit in an attempt to create a lasting structure for the Walldog movement which will be celebrating their 20th Anniversary in 2012 in Kewanee, IL.