A new home for the Pemberton Barn Dance?

It’s been an ages-long tradition in Pemberton, but the 2010 Barn Dance is taking a reprieve, as community service groups try and work out how to make the event viable, in the face of increased regulation and growing costs to meet infrastructure, fire protection, security and insurance requirements.  The days of the Wild West are over.

The Lions Club, Legion, Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce have all been working together on the Barn Dance over the past few years, overseeing its incorporation into the Pemberton Festival in 2008, and a move outdoors to the old Community Centre field to attract 800 people last year.

They have been brainstorming the idea of collaborating on other projects, including a Slow Food Cycle weekend street festival or the return of the Pemberton Festival as an umbrella for the Barn Dance.

The Barn Dance’s best hopes, however, would seem to have been floated just this week, as planning consultants presented their first ideas for a master-planned makeover of Pemberton’s downtown Frontier Street.

Michael von Hausen and his team followed last year’s public workshops, down-town walkabouts, and Downtown Enhancement Strategy, with another day of consulting and planning July 14 and 15 to present an inspired vision for Pemberton’s Frontier Street that had the consultants so jazzed they were practically volunteering to join the barn-raising.

“We’re placemakers,” said von Hausen, as he introduced the concepts and designs his team had prepared in a whirlwind 24 hours workshopping process. “Small towns are very attractive to us, and a lot of towns have been ruined.”  Pemberton hasn’t been.  “You’ve got great bones. And an awe-inspiring context that can’t be replaced.”

The guiding principles for the “facelift” sketched out by the consultants to create a powerful first impression of Pemberton’s downtown are transformation and renovation.

And the master plan’s big idea?  A barn.


The consultants suggest building a timber-frame traditional barn-style market hall, at the entrance to town, that could shelter a weekly Farmers Market, movie nights, events, festivities, and even, a Barn Dance. “It would basically be a park with a roof,” said the consultants.  Which makes it the perfect future home for a party with cowboy boots.

And an iconic way to “make-place.”


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