The community has turned out in force to help the Alberni District Fall Fair recover from a fire in May that destroyed two of four horse barns and scorched the front of the remaining barns.
The property was cleaned up within days of the fire, which began under suspicious circumstances according to the Port Alberni Fire Department. The barn fire was the third suspicious fire in the past six months at or near the fairgrounds. No horses were in the barns; Fall Fair officials suspect someone was squatting in one of the barns.
Fall Fair chairman Scott Green said a number of business people came forward offering to help before the smoke even cleared. Chris Dods of Coastal Bridge & Construction brought in equipment, while the See Group and Berry Trucking donated containers and hauling for timbers and metal.
“I’m really surprised,” Green said. “We were trying to get it lined up through the city” when the businesses stepped up.
Great Central Timber Milling has provided some lumber to rebuild the horse ring and repair damage to the remaining two barns where flames scorched the ends of the barns closest to the fire.
The Fall Fair board is also negotiating with another group in town that has offered sponsorship for additional work, and volunteers have already come forward offering labour if the barns are rebuilt.
The Fall Fair is planning a fundraiser for Friday, July 22: a night market beginning at 5 p.m. at the fairgrounds behind Glenwood Centre. “There’s going to be vendors, music and some food,” Green said.
Anyone interested in vending at the night market can call Carol Brown at 250-731-6994. There is a fee for vendors.
All the community support has Green hopeful that the Fall Fair will be able to replace the horse barns lost to fire. The fair board was unable to get insurance for the barns so will be responsible for the full replacement cost.
“Rebuilding won’t happen this year unless someone comes up with manpower. We have to get ready for the fair,” he said.