Restoration project underway for art show buildings; volunteers needed

BLANDFORD-Since the early 1900’s, the two buildings that now showcase the annual art show exhibition during the annual Blandford Fair have stood the test of time – and the weather.

“Over the years the post and beam buildings have served in several capacities, including an animal exhibition as well as housing poultry and rabbits,” said Bruce Wyman, president of the Union Agricultural and Horticulture Society which oversees the Blandford Fair.

The Blandford Fair’s art show buildings will receive a facelift – during a three-year process. (Lori Szepelak photo)

Wyman noted that in 1987, the buildings were relocated from the south end of the fairgrounds to its present location and was repurposed for the art show exhibition.

“The two buildings have experienced general wear and tear which now require improvements and upgrades,” said Wyman.

Society members have voted to embark on a three-year restoration project that will include jacking up the buildings (12″-24″), plumbing the posts since they are twisted, straighten and rebalance them and then set them back on a secure base.

“We will also remove the stone dust floor and install pressure treated joists and beams and add a sublayer of pressure treated plywood for moisture protection,” said Wyman.

The finished floor will feature pressure treated pine logs that have been donated, according to Wyman.

“The 10″-14″ boards will be cut right here during the fair,” said Wyman.

Wyman said the project, expected to cost between $12,000 – $15,000, began in mid-June with the buildings being jacked in place, as well as being plumbed with a temporary base.

“Next year the joists and beams will be in and the plywood floor,” said Wyman.

Restoration efforts will also include replacing doors and reconfiguring windows to ensure the building is more “weather resistant” than it is now.

“All of the labor to complete this restoration process will be done by volunteers,” said Wyman.

Society members have secured funding through the Westfield Bank Futures Fund, the Hampden County Improvement League Trust Fund, and one private donor.

“When we establish priorities for the fairgrounds, we tend to price a project to make permanent repairs so we don’t have to do it again,” said Wyman. “Our philosophy is we have to do it well and we’re going to do it right the first time.”

Other “priorities” during the recent past have included a new roof for the President’s Building and updating the horse show ring and stalls.

Wyman noted that the Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs Program once had a rehabilitation fund that allowed hometown fairs to request money for projects on their grounds.

“That division ended 10 years ago and there is an effort underway to get the funds restored,” said Wyman, noting that the funding is in the “hands of the legislators.”

For now, Wyman is always seeking volunteers who have some time to help with a multitude of projects needing attention on the fairgrounds.

“We have a core group of volunteers who give of their time for the Blandford Fair,” said Wyman. “The dedication of these volunteers is immeasurable and we welcome area residents to join us in the effort.”

For more information on volunteering opportunities, visit www.blandfordfair.com and click on the Volunteer link.


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