Board president says structure is in the way of sewer and water expansion project
The Polk County Fair Board has voted to demolish the long-standing log cabin on the fairgrounds in Fertile to make way for an addition to their bathroom sewer lines. The cabin, originally built in 1883 by Haakon Tollefson, was donated and moved onto the fairgrounds in 1960. It houses artifacts from the late 1800s to early 1900s and is only open to the public once a year during fair week.
One Fertile resident, Carole Larson, is irritated that this key piece of history is not going to be moved or restored.
"It is upsetting that they didn't give the public a chance to have a voice in what happens to the log cabin," said Larson. "There are people capable of moving the building and it could easily be restored."
She also mentioned that once the building is torn down, the artifacts could go to the Polk County Historical Society in Crookston and "it's upsetting that they wouldn't stay in Fertile" as the cabin housed many families close to Fertile before moving to the fairgrounds.
"It's a part of Fertile's history," added Larson.
Larson told the Times that she had spoken to Fair Board President Danny Grunhovd about her assuming responsibility of the log cabin, but Grunhovd told the Times that Larson told him she would not be able to make it happen. It might have something to do with the strict timeline on the removal and the cost, he said. Larson said she has been in talks with people in the community who might be able to help.
Larson is known for her restoration skills in Fertile as she has "saved" a few buildings including the Willow Creek Bed and Breakfast, the building where her store "Boutique of Joy" sits (built in 1891) and her own home near Erickson's Smokehouse on the south end of town.
Grunhovd: Cabin too expensive to fix or relocate
Grunhovd told the Times Wednesday that the log cabin is not structurally sound and there is too much work to be done for the board to afford the cost.
"It needs a new roof and the east side of the building's logs are rotted," he explained. "The walls are sagging and we don't want anyone to get hurt if it were to collapse. We did get estimates to move it before deciding to tear it down and they were more than we could afford. We even talked to the families who donated it and they don't want it back."
Their plans for the area are to build a bigger outlet for the sewer and a bigger inlet for water lines to extend the bathrooms.
"Our annual attendance is increasing and we need bigger bathrooms," said Grunhovd. "If we were to build a whole new bathroom system somewhere else, it could cost in upwards of $100,000. We don't have the money for that."
He went on to say, "The last couple years the log cabin has sat empty with no one to watch over it. In the past we've had help from volunteers, but it's getting harder to find someone."
When asked if the board would be open to a member of the public moving it off the fairgrounds to restore it, Grunhovd said the board would be thrilled if that happened. "We would love for anyone who wants to save and restore the log cabin to take and relocate it," he said, adding that it would have to happen quickly, however, because work on the sewer and water expansion needs to commence.
As of now, the demolition of the log cabin has not been scheduled, so there is time if someone wants to step in and remove it. Grunhovd said the artifacts inside will be moved to another building on the fairgrounds if there is sufficient room, or they will be sent to the Polk County Historical Society Museum in Crookston.