Volunteers spent the past two weekends replacing aging roofs on barns at the Thurston County Fairgrounds.
About a dozen volunteers were on site Saturday working on the second half of Simons Barn, stapling tar paper before adding the new metal roof.
A $50,000 grant from the state Department of Agriculture provided the funds needed to replace two roofs on the aging buildings.
A break from the rainy weather helped motivate the crew as they worked on the second half of the barn used for beef and dairy cows during fair time.
“I think this is the only blue spot in the whole county,” Project Manager Michael Crowe said.
With Simons Barn nearly finished, volunteers will focus on replacing the roof of Petersen Barn this Saturday.
Petersen Barn houses poultry and rabbits during fair season.
Crowe estimates that the roof will take up to three weeks to fix.
“I think the citizens have a lot to thank these volunteers for, because without them, we wouldn’t be able to continue having the fair,” said County Commissioner Sandra Romero. “They are making such a difference — they are ensuring we have these barns for another 30 years, and that’s significant.”
The fair board is seeking more volunteers for the Saturday work. Volunteers must be 18 years or older and show up by 8 a.m. for a mandatory safety meeting. “Come prepared to work, rain or shine,” said fair board member Kathy Bailey.
Bailey is new to the board and said she didn’t realize how much the fair operations rely on the help of volunteers.
“There is a lot more into this — I had no idea,” Bailey said. “I am learning more and more about it every day, every month as we go along.”
Volunteers and fair board members are working to bring new ideas to the fair this year, including having a beer and wine tasting event, new bands and adopting out more of the fair’s raised flower beds.
All of the projects are in the early stages, Bailey said.
For the moment, volunteers are working on upgrading the facilities, which doesn’t just include replacing roofs.
The fairgrounds’s 3,000-square-foot Hicks Barn, known as the goat barn, built in 2003, burned to the ground earlier this year. Fire investigators were unable to determine the cause of the fire.
The barn’s contents, two RVs, two boats and a fifth-wheel trailer, were destroyed.
The county is going to bid to have a company clear the area and instead of building a new barn, the county will use tents during fair season.
“The tents will be for the goats,” Romero said. “The event will still occur.”
Anyone interested in helping with the replacement roof projects can contact Romero’s office at 360-786-5747. Those looking to volunteer with the fair in general can attend the monthly Thurston County Fair board meeting at 7:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month in Heritage Hall at the county fairgrounds.