SMITHFIELD - Housing for livestock at the Friendship Park location of the Jefferson County Fairgrounds has been disrupted at least twice before through the years since it was moved from the Smithfield grounds in 1982.
It happened again this year during high winds on the eve of Jan. 5. This time there was no fair in progress, but leaving it alone in the bad weather would have caused even more damage to the roof trusses, according to Ray Hilderbrand, agricultural society president.
"The first horse barn in the livestock area was hit and part of its roof was blown about 100 feet away, with parts landing in the campgrounds, and another portion on the roof hitting the second horse barn, causing damage there as well," he said.
DAMAGE — The first horse barn in the 4-H and open class area of the Jefferson County Fairgrounds at Friendship Park was damaged by wind on Jan. 5. The roof had to be removed and another added. -- Contributed
"These barns were built in the early 1980s and this is the first time for this to happen to the 120-foot-long barn. We could not wait because the weather would be doing damage to the barn trusses. The barns were insured and being an emergency, we didn't wait around," Hilderbrand said.
Larry Mercer, past president, is the chairman of the buildings, grounds and maintenance.
"The work was done by 3-D Construction, an Amish operation. They got it done right away," he said.
History tells that in the first year of the fair, when tents were used to house livestock, there was a wind and rain storm during the fair that blew over tents and left the cattle inside scrambling.
The next year, the remainder of the seven buildings were built. Five were present the first year, including the rabbit and poultry barn and exhibit area for showing animals. The next was a junior fair livestock show and sale arena, the hog barn, the 4-H office and stalls for the club exhibits and the building housing the seventh and eighth department displays.
There were two building on the grounds when the fair made its move from the crowded grounds on state Route 151 in Smithfield to Friendship Park. The horse barn and 20-stall speed barn, located off the beaten path of fair visitors, were constructed in the early 1970s when construction of the fair site seemed to be more imminent than it later proved to be.
This year's Jefferson County Fair will be held Aug. 12-17 and Hilderbrand is hoping for good weather in his 20th year to serve on the fair board.