WOODSTOCK — A piece of Shenandoah County Fair history is being dismantled and put back together to make sure it's safe.
The 26-by-16-foot cabin that houses the educational exhibits of the U.S. Forest Service and the Virginia Department of Forestry needs a remodel.
For years, people have enjoyed looking at the maps and learning more about fire prevention and the other work the forestry agencies do. Smokey the Bear often visits, too.
"They've been doing it for a long time, and it's pretty popular," said Jay Collett, an assistant fire management officer with the U.S. Forest Service.
But water runoff from the midway has damaged some of the logs on the bottom. The rotten logs must be replaced because they are making the building unstable.
"The structure had started to lean," said Collett, who works most of the year in the George Washington National Forest. "It was getting to where it wasn't safe."
The two government agencies — one federal, one state — have been exhibiting at the Shenandoah County Fair for decades.
In the early years, they would set up under the grandstand, but the heat could be unbearable. Some years, they'd set up under a tent, but a strong wind could knock the displays over. Plus, the displays had to be taken down each night and locked away, according to a written history of the cabin.
In the late 1970s, staff members from the two agencies decided to get together to build a cabin to house the displays.
Dan Keckly from the U.S. Forest Service and Ivan Coffelt from the Virginia Department of Forestry co-designed and co-built the cabin as a joint project. The cabin was built between 1979 and 1980 in West Virginia where the logs, made of short leaf pine, could dry out. The logs were then shipped to the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds where the cabin was constructed on-site by Keckly and Coffelt. The roof was redone in 2010 in cedar shake shingles. A recent Eagle Scout project added a bench and an extension walkway to the front of the cabin.
The dismantling work began a couple of weeks ago. As workers take apart the cabin, they are numbering each log so the cabin can be easily reconstructed in a nearby spot on the fairgrounds.
Still, it's likely the cabin won't be back together by the start of the fair on Aug. 27. Not only are there more damaged logs than first thought, Collett said, several forestry personnel must go out West for a good part of July and August to help fight the annual wildfires.
"Realistically, it's probably not going to be up by fair time," said Collett, who leaves for Montana next month to fight wildfires. "But we are going to get it back up."