Drivers along state Highway 133 on a late night in June witnessed a giant — the top two stories of a 120-year-old barn — slowly make its way through Washington County to its new location at Skinny Bones Pumpkin Patch south of Blair.
The barn has been transformed and opened for the season on Friday.
The barn, formerly owned by Welland “Doc” Bates, was moved with the assistance of OPPD, Nebraska State Patrol, Ensor Movers and the Bates family. Skinny Bones Executive Director Maria Bledsoe said the move had been in the works since March. Bledsoe said she has always admired the barn, originally located at 11110 State St., in Omaha, and met the owners years ago. They reconsidered briefly when the pandemic hit, but persisted.
"We took a step of faith and decided to go ahead with it," Bledsoe said. "We are very excited."
The barn, located next to the tornado alley simulator, is being used as the exit barn and includes a bakery, gift shop, and place to purchase merchandise, caramel apples, fudge, kettle corn and pumpkins.
"We have been working very hard," Bledsoe said. "The inside is beautiful and we are very proud of it."
The barn was used for storage for many years.
"It had six large rooms that were grain rooms and now it is one open room," she said. "We have a bakery and full retail space inside. Everyone when they exit will exit through the barn and where they'll weigh their pumpkins."
Bledsoe said they are especially excited for this year.
"It's been fun taking something and refurbishing it and give it life again," she said. "Fall is special time of year. I think everyone is excited to get out into the fresh air."
As part of the renovations, the barn was almost painted red.
"We got customer opinions and overwhelmingly they wanted to keep it yellow as it was originally," Bledsoe said.
A deck was added at the last minute.
Inside the barn is a photo wall with the history of the project.
"We kept the things we could reuse — the old ladder was in the barn, doors, a wagon wheel and crates," Bledsoe said. "We wanted to keep everything as original as possible."