Historic judges' stand has new look
Gary Barkanic, back, and Keith Shelly, volunteers for the Lowe's Heroes program, make improvements to the historic judges' stand at the Lehighton Community Grove. The stand, possibly over 125 years old, was salvaged from the original Carbon County Fair when the fair ended in 1992.
The historic judges stand, well over 100 years old, which was salvaged from the original Carbon County Fair, has been completely renovated, with much of the work done by volunteers.
The stand has been relocated to the Lehighton Community Grove and stands at the corner of Eighth and Iron Street.
The 20-foot high stand had been used at the old fair for harness racing, beauty pageants, go-cart racing, and many other grandstand events before the fair ended in 1992. The fair began in 1858 as the Greater Lehighton Fair.
The judges' stand was originally moved to the former Hahn & Sons car dealership parking lot, and then to the Community Grove. For 20 years, it has been standing idle and was a point of controversy as to whether it should be renovated or sold.
The borough received a grant, which allowed it to contract Hinkle's Roofing of Weatherly to replace the roof.
Lowe's home improvement center helped the borough with the remainder of the renovations.
Through it's "Lowe's Heroes" program, in which the retailer is dedicated to making improvements in local communities, the stand was renovated at very little cost to the borough.
"Lowe's has a philanthropic program to give back to the community," said Kerry Collins, store manager of Lowe's in Lehighton.
He explained that store employees volunteer to work on the project. Of the judges' stand, Collins said, "We teamed with the city to rehabilitate it."
Volunteer employees who worked on the judges's stand were Gary Barkanic, Josh Barkanic, Keith Shelly, Wil Hoffman and Timothy Rehrig.
Lehighton borough manager Nicole Beckett said she and the council received a lot of feedback from members of the community wanting the octagonal structure salvaged. She said the final decision was made "when Lowe's approached us."
Hoffman said a member of the public donated 8-foot by 12-foot beams. He said the structure had a lot of termite infestation and carpenter ants because of it sitting idle so many years.
"We replaced all that lumber," he said.
Collins said the renovations are such, that hopefully the stand will last another 100 years.
Councilman Scott Rehrig said he never wavered from his opinion that the stand should be salvaged.
"I thought this was an important piece of history, not just for the community but the whole county because the whole county took part in the fair."
He and council President Grant Hunsicker were directors of the fair for many years.
"That's why we were persistent in this," he said. "This is a piece of history. There was only one other like this in the whole country."
Hunsicker said he is hoping that the judges' stand can be utilized.
Beckett said the borough is accepting donations for additional improvements to the structure. Checks can be sent to: Lehighton Treasurer, P.O. Box 29, Lehighton, PA 18235.