In presenting the award, GNWCA President Charlie commented that “Russ” Fitch has been a strong supporter of the arts in the North Country over the years. As such, this year’s award was presented on behalf of the three partner organizations who are working together at the Great North Woods Center for the Arts in Columbia, which includes the Great North Woods Center for the Arts, the Connecticut River Artisan Group and the Carriage Lane Players. The plaque reads: “Presented to James ‘Russ’ Fitch for his dedicated and enthusiastic support of live music performances, theater and the visual arts in the Great North Woods and the surrounding region.”
Fitch, who owns a camp in Clarksville, has been a benefactor of live concerts, theater and the visual arts. In 1962 his father acquired the lot of land on Lake Francis. He was raised in Sterling, Mass., on his grandfather's farm. He now lives in Stow, Mass., not far from Sterling. He said that he is the youngest of eight children, “so there were 10 people at the dinner table,” he said. “Music was in the air a lot back then. My brother subscribed to RCA record club so we had plenty of vinyl to spin. The ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and more.”
Fitch has been a designer and builder of what he calls “mechanical things, systems and buildings” from his high school years to the present. “I always liked the arts in general. I have been on the Citizen's Advisory Board for a Public Broadcasting Radio station in Worcester, Mass., for the past 15-plus years. I was taught to help others when you can; I'll give a hand up but not a hand out. I support the arts because the arts serve everyone.” He also supports eight institutes twice a year plus some in between, he said. “I love the North Country.”
This is the fifth year of the GNWCA Music Appreciation award. It was first presented to the late Carolyn and Brad Brooks in 2019, the late David Killam in 2020, the late Roland Cotnoir in 2021, and to Paul Daniels in 2022.