“I grew up with 4-H,” recalled Jane Schmidt as she looked at pictures of the curved-roof barn commonly referred to as the 4-H barn at the Kanabec County Fairgrounds.

“4-H taught me so much as a kid. When I came back and saw the condition the building is in, it broke my heart,” she said. 

Indeed, the roof beams are sagging, and the exterior is in desperate need of new shingles. The electricity and lights could use upgrading, as well as the doors. A fresh coat of paint wouldn’t hurt either. 

The building is owned by the Kanabec County Agricultural Society, and Schmidt is determined to help them repair it. 

Now retired from her work in the auction business, Schmidt has been busier than ever organizing fundraisers to help her community. 

“My mission when I retired wasn’t to travel,” she said. “I wanted to give back to the communities that have impacted me.”

Repairing the barn is her most recent passion. 

Estimated costs to repair the barn’s roof is $12,000-$13,000. While the Kanabec County Agricultural Society is applying for grant funding to support the repair, grants may require matching funds. 

Schmidt is helping the Ag. Society host their first “Raise the Roof” fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 12 with the goal of raising enough money to repair the roof, and hopefully have enough left over to invest in other repairs. 

All money raised will go to supporting repair of buildings and grounds. 

Overall, Schmidt said this was about honoring the past while moving forward.

“This is our county and when I was young, the fair is how we got together,” she said as she reminisced how farmers chatted and the kids played during fair time. But, Schmidt admitted agricultural roots don’t spread like they used to, and that times are indeed changing. Thus, organizations like 4-H and the county fair need to follow suit.  

“The fair will always need to shift because times are different ... just like taste in music changes with the generations,” she said.  Her goal, is to look toward the future, including repairing the barn that she remembered helping her in her journey to adulthood. 

She said it’s possible, but, “We need to all pull together.”

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