History Barn needs more historical fair items

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Richard Byrd/Columbia Basin Herald Denise Keegan details an artifact in the History Barn at the Grant County Fairgrounds Wednesday afternoon.

MOSES LAKE — Through the doors in this barn there are no animals. No horses. No pigs. No cows or brown dirt covering the floor. This barn is different. Through the doors in the History Barn at the Grant County Fairgrounds are the tales of old. Stories of a local institution that has been a Grant County staple every summer for over a century.

“People love nostalgia. You see a picture and you remember the picture, or something about it, and then it brings back another memory,” History Barn volunteer Denise Keegan said. “We all like to look back every once in awhile. You don’t have to live back there. Everybody has good, bad and indifferent memories of their past and the fair is usually a good memory.”

Flipping through the scrapbooks in the barn a visitor can find a veritable who’s who of legendary performers on past posters. From Hank Williams Jr. in 1976, to Buck Owens in 1978 and even Mr. “Smoky Mountain Rain” himself, Ronnie Milsap, in 2001, the rich history of legendary acts at the Grant County Fair could be a museum exhibit in itself.

Whether it’s newspaper articles that were penned more than 50 years ago, fair buttons, award ribbons or photographs, the history on display at the barn has been carefully gathered over the years and is a cherished and integral piece of the Grant County Fair. Volunteers have compiled quite the collection, but as with any valued collection there is always room to grow and expand.

“I am still searching for anything from the 1950s back. Because those years we don’t have a whole lot on. I have a lot of newspaper stuff from the 1950s, but I don’t like opening the papers too often because they crumble,” Keegan stated. “Anybody that has any fair memorabilia that they don’t know what to do with is welcome to donate. If they don’t want to donate it, we would love to have copies of the original items.”

Grant County history aficionado Dennis Clay said the idea is to the expand the History Barn and have even more space to display history.

“There are plans with the new fairground manager to hopefully upgrade. We are hoping by next year, but there is still the process of going through the Board of County Commissioners that needs to be done,” Keegan explained.

People who have items they want to donate to the History Barn are encouraged to visit the fairgrounds office.

Richard Byrd can be reached via email at city@columbiabasinherald.com.

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