The century-old red wood barn stood bent with age, its rotted walls crumbling and its fractured roof ready to collapse.
Since it was built on the Anoka County Fairgrounds back in the early 1900s, the barn has sheltered hundreds of animals and thousands of people. But last year a building inspector, seeing its deterioration, said, “You can’t have animals or people in this one any more.”
And so, Anita Swanson, who serves as Anoka County 4-H secretary, treasurer and animal coordinator for the large livestock program, made it her mission to replace that old barn.
Youth and families who participate in 4-H livestock shows and competitions staffed a food booth during the fair, Swanson sold root beer floats, malts and more dairy treats and “every penny made goes to this,” she said, standing outside a shining new red steel pole barn recently built to replace the old barn.
That wood barn was razed early this spring – while there was still snow on the ground. And, as soon as the ground thawed, the new barn went up.
“This new barn has the same layout as the old one, but it’s bigger,” Swanson said.
The new barn has the capacity for 52 cattle on the south side and up to 50 sheep, goats and swine on the north side, she said.
Anoka County Fair Manager Ray Hyovalti expressed his pleasure with the new building.
“This is more than twice the size of the old one,” he said. “And it’s got more space for spectators, too, so it’s really a big improvement over that old barn.”
While the barn has been built and will house dozens of animals during next week’s Anoka County Fair, it stands with a balance due.
Swanson’s efforts brought in $15,000, but the total cost of the new barn is $80,000, Hyovalti said.
The old red barn’s wood windows and doors have been put aside for sale as a fund-raiser to help pay off the cost of the new barn.
“We are seeking individuals, associations, businesses – anyone who has an interest in supporting this effort to pay off the barn – to let us know,” Swanson said.
For more information on how to make a donation to help pay for the barn, contact Swanson at 763-286-9610.
Check out the new red barn when the 4-H animal shows and competitions take place there during the Anoka County Fair, July 23-28.
Sue Austreng is at [email protected]