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Area FFA chapter builds new office at fairgrounds

The new secretary's office is the latest addition to the grounds at the Kandiyohi County Fair. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Fair's secretary's office received a new home this summer.

Thanks to the Minnesota Legislature's Legacy Grants, the fairgrounds' old log cabin was restored during the past two years, opening the entire building for displays by the Kandiyohi County Historical Society. This meant the office needed a new home, and the New London-Spicer FFA stepped in to help build a new building.

"Moving here (to the new building) has been good for us as far as working," Kandiyohi County Fair Secretary Cheryl Johnson said. "We can all be in there without being on top of each other."

This year, the old log cabin features a Kandiyohi County historical churches display, with daily presentations by Doug Ohman, a public speaker and photographer from New Hope. The display was put together by Johnson and the Kandiyohi County Historical Society, who then brought in Ohman to bring the display to life.

"I'm a storyteller, not a historical lecturer," Ohman said. "I always have a game for folks, and they can win some of my products, so I challenge them to know what's in their county."

Ohman's presentation covers historical churches in Minnesota, with a focus on Kandiyohi County.

"I'm self-taught about all of this," Ohman said. "It comes from just traveling around Minnesota. You can't help but absorb the stories."

Ohman said the old log cabin was the "perfect" venue for the display and presentation, the result of a two-year project by the fair board and historical society.

"We originally applied for a Legacy Grant to refurbish the log cabin," Johnson said. "So the first year we did the staining and chinking on the outside and redid the display area and cabinets."

When they received the grant again this year, they made the decision to reshingle the roof and make the display area, which previously only took up half the building, larger.

"When we made that decision, we started thinking 'where are we going to go?'" Johnson said. "That's when we got the idea of building a new log cabin for the secretary's office."

When the NLS FFA called, which Johnson said they do every summer, the fair board had the perfect project in place.

"They started in mid-June and we completely finished it about a week ago," Johnson said.

Johnson said that while the board misses being in the old log cabin, it's good that it has been refurbished.

"It's back to its original purpose that the Historical Settlers Society, who built it, meant for it to be used for," Johnson said.