August 29, 2008


Polkville barn ready for bicentennial dance

Barn features mural along its east side depicting the evolution of Cortland’s industry, culture


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Wendy Lacey listens as her husband, Chuck, describes the work that went into turning the upstairs of their barn into a dance hall for the county’s bicentennial barn dance Saturday evening.

Staff Reporter

POLKVILLE — After almost five months and extensive work, Charles Lacey’s barn is ready for the Saturday evening barn dance.
As part of the Cortland Bicentennial celebration, Lacey volunteered the barn adjacent to his Polkville home for the event. Even though it meant hours of cleaning and restoration, Lacey said he enjoyed the opportunity to fix it up.
“Barns add a lot of personality and culture to the landscape,” he said.
Lacey said the cost of repairing the barn came out of his own pocket, and he wouldn’t comment on the total cost.
The highlight of the barn is a mural painted freehand along the east side depicting the evolution of Cortland’s industry and culture.
Local artist Jack Kampney, 63, volunteered to paint the mural, and spent five weeks, beginning in September, working on the project using his own art supplies.
Kampney, a painter for over 50 years, said the only trouble was coping with the cold weather and chipped paint off the exterior of the barn.
“It was getting cold and it rained, plus the barn was not in wonderful shape,” he said. “It’s sort of a challenge to set things the right way.”
The mural depicts factories, development of river transportation, farming and various other industries. The SUNY Cortland emblem was the last to be added to the mural, Lacey said.
Jim Dempsey, director of the Cortland County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said the mural was funded through a $5,000 grant provided by the New York State Cultural Resources Council.
Dempsey said he applied for the grant and received funds in November 2006.
Cortland County historian Jeremy Boylan said the project was chosen during the initial planning of the bicentennial two years ago.
“There couldn’t be a better place (for a bicentennial dance) than one that features local history right on it,” Boylan said. The idea for a barn dance sprang from Boylan talking with many local senior citizens, who told fond stories of how fun barn dances were when they were younger.
“We thought it would be a great way to relive the past,” Boylan said.
Lacey began work on the barn in April 2007. He said one of the biggest challenges was clearing out decades-old clutter. Old car parts and rusted old farm tools took up most of the space, he said.
Lacey said he spent more than five hours sanding down the floor and reinforcing the supports. He also said re-painting the back of the barn was the most grueling task, taking him almost 14 hours to complete.
“I rented a bucket lift and only wanted it for one night, so I wanted to get it all done,” he said. “Scraping, priming, and painting took me from about 11 a.m. until 1:30 the next morning.”
The barn was built around 1915, he said, and since went through 23 owners, including Lacey.
On Saturday, Lacey said the barn will be decorated with Christmas lights and bales of hay stacked around the interior for people to sit on.
Old-fashioned farm tools and various decades-old business signs Lacey gathered over the years will also be on display. In addition, posters will depict the progress of the barn’s restoration and the painting of the mural for visitors to see.
Music will be provided by the country band Route 66 of Norwich, and will be played from the start at 7 p.m. until about 11 p.m.
“We’re just hosting and we really want people to come and have a good time,” Lacey said.

Bicentennial barn dance

Location: 2095 Weaver Road, Route 11, Polkville
Time: 7 to about 11 p.m. Saturday.
Details: Square dancing from 7 to 9 p.m. and country music from 9 to approximately 11 p.m. Music provided by Norwich country band Route 66.


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