Plagman Barn improvements Show Days showcase dance floor, new bathrooms

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Volunteer Larry Borcherding of Guttenberg helped saw cedar in 2014 at Plagman Barn Show Days. Cedar sawed at last year's Show Days was used in barn upgrades this summer. (Photo submitted)

By Molly Moser

In February of 2013, Mel and Donna Christianson made an offer of $10,000 to the Northeast Iowa Farm Antique Association as seed money for an endowment fund. The Christiansons challenged the Association to match that amount in one year, and Fred and Ellen Phelps of Colesburg rose to the occasion. This year, for the first time, the organization began drawing interest on the endowment fund.

The Association manages Plagman Barn, which was originally built as a dance hall in 1924 – 25. Appropriately, the Association chose to spend its first payoff from its young endowment on dancing – literally. The barn’s dance floor was expanded and improved just in time for the upcoming Plagman Barn Show Days, as well as two weddings scheduled to take place in the barn this fall. “The Association is very happy about this new use of its barn,” said Association president Larry Moser.

Other new improvements in the barn include the installation of cedar boards, sawed during last year’s Show Days and at the home of longtime Association member Lynn Moser. “These have been installed this summer in front of the bandstand on which bands play, and as a backdrop behind them,” said Moser. “You have to see this to believe what a lovely addition to the barn it is.”

The kitchen has been remodeled with updated stainless steel sinks and new countertops. The picket fence separating the ticket tables from the eating tables in the barn has been removed, creating a much more spacious look to the barn's interior.

Perhaps the most convenient of all this year’s improvements is the addition of a flush toilet facility, replacing old pit toilets with modern bathrooms for guest use. “We are very proud of our new bathroom facilities just completed this year. This is another thing off our bucket list,” Moser told The Press. “We are always making improvements that will make our Show Days and our other yearly events more people-friendly.”

New events will also make Plagman Barn Show Days more exciting for visitors. An auction, run by Bob Pasker Auctions, will be held on Friday, Sept. 18, at 11 a.m. The Association will earn a percentage of sales from this consignment-style auction, and organizers are hoping for a good turn-out. Also new is a caning demonstration, using a cane press to make molasses from the cane as it was done in years past.

As always, Plagman Barn’s updates and Show Days are made possible with assistance from willing hands. “These improvements were done with the help of many of our members and volunteers,” said Moser.

The 34th annual Plagman Barn Show Days will be held Friday through Sunday, Sept. 18 to 20, with demonstrations daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year’s event features Farmall tractors. Displays will include a blacksmith shop; mills, saws, and other machinery; butter churning and bread making; a printing press; rug weaving; cooking apple butter, and much more. Entertainment includes a horse show, tractor parade, and antique tractor pull, as well as live music by Dave Poggenklass, Keepin’ It Country, Sounds of Nashville, and Unstrung Heroes. 

Activities for children include a tour of the country school house, rope making, a petting zoo, kiddie tractor pull, and performances by the Hole in the Sock Gang. A raffle will be held for toys, quilts, and a Farmall M tractor, and the country store and large flea market offer shopping for festival-goers. Food is served daily and camping is allowed on the grounds or in Elkport.

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