Harmony-opoly to hit local store shelves soon

The game board features properties representing Harmony businesses and organization. Playing cards feature actions and consequences unique to Harmony and the money is sponsored by First Southeast Bank of Harmony. MELISSA VANDER PLAS/NEWS LEADER
By : 
Melissa Vander Plas
Bluff Country Newspaper Group

There’s a new game in town and residents are excited to shine up their Amish buggies and tractors to hit the streets. After rolling the dice, players will skip down the streets to land on a local business. If no one owns it, they may choose to pull out some cash from First Southeast Bank and add the property card to their collection. Collect $200 for passing the Harmony Area Chamber of Commerce office, but try to avoid landing in Niagara Cave where you will have to roll doubles or pay a fine to get out.

Yes, one may recognize certain aspects of a popular real estate trading game, but this version is completely unique to Harmony. Properties on the board honor the current businesses in the community and game pieces represent some of Harmony’s greatest assets — the Amish community, local bike trails, agriculture, musical influences, golf courses and the town’s railroad history.

Game cards boast activities like attending a Golden Happenings program, cashing in on the Harmony EDA’s housing incentives and receiving a grant from the Harmony Area Community Foundation. An unlucky draw may find players paying fines for ignoring winter parking ordinances or medical costs associated with taking a ride in the Harmony Ambulance.

Harmony-opoly is the current fundraising effort for the Harmony Area Community Foundation and a limited supply of 750 games arrived last week to be sold throughout the community following its debut at Ladies’ Night Out on Thursday, Sept. 13.

Chamber Director Becky Hoff explained that the game was originally planned to be sold at the Holiday Fest craft and vendor show in November, but since it arrived earlier than expected, the Chamber has decided to debut it early.

“We are urging people to get them early,” Hoff said. “It’s entirely possible they won’t still be available when the holiday shopping season arrives.”

The limited-edition board game features Harmony businesses and organizations and includes custom pewter game pieces. The cost of the game is $32, which includes tax.

The Harmony Area Chamber of Commerce board members started discussing the fundraiser when one of its members mentioned both communities her siblings worked in had developed a similar game. The members discussed the feasibility of getting enough sponsors to pay for the creation of the games and Hoff began informally asking some of the business owners what their level of interest would be.

“Right away we got an overwhelmingly positive response,” she said. “I began getting verbal commitments and support for advertising and sponsorships.”

Over 35 businesses and organizations are mentioned in the game and contributed funds towards its creation.

The Chamber of Commerce Board had decided to offer custom pewter game pieces instead of plastic space markers, which increased the cost of production. However, Hoff said, she is pleased that decision was made as the quality of the game pieces is part of its appeal.

The fundraising project landed in the hands of Harmony’s promotions committee, which handles some of the community’s special events. Members of that committee decided which game pieces best represented the community and helped Hoff make decisions about the game’s design.

Hoff worked with graphic designer Dawn Maroushek of LetterWerks to design the game board and the box with photos of businesses and recreational opportunities. Photos for the game were taken from the Chamber of Commerce’s collection as well as provided by Sharen Storhoff, Kim Thompson and Mary Beth Ostrom.

Members of the Harmony Area Community Foundation and Harmony Economic Development Authority wrote actions for the game cards with Hoff’s assistance.

“It was a really cool project,” Hoff said. “It was a fun one to do.”

Design of the board, game cards, money and game pieces began in early winter and the design phase was complete in mid-May when the game went into production with 521 Promo in Georgia. The games were expected to arrive later this fall, but Hoff said the game was ready to go into production earlier than expected and beat the “holiday rush.”

When asked what her favorite part of the game is, Hoff replied, “I love the whole thing — the little buggy they made just for us — the picture collage on the box — and the photos of Main Street on the back of the box, the historic photo on the left and the current photo on the right. I loved the whole project. It was just a lot of fun.”

The games will go on sale on Thursday, Sept. 13, the day of Harmony’s Ladies’ Night Out. The games will be available at Kingsley Mercantile, Boutique on Main, Harmony Gardens and Floral and the Harmony visitor center. Again, the cost of the game is $32, which includes the tax. However, payment must be made by cash or check, with no credit card payments accepted. Hoff also mentioned that there will no pre-orders or advance sales.