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Junior livestock show displaced after historic barn burns down

Jul 9, 2024, 12:03 PM | Updated: Jul 10, 2024, 7:55 am

FERRON, Emery County — Ferron locals are taking steps forward after a devastating fire burned down a key landmark in town weeks ago.

It was the livestock show barn — home to the Southeastern Utah Junior Livestock Show, and it’s been standing since the early 1940s.

For over 40 years, Dennis Worwood had been working at the barn. He said the show began back in the Great Depression and the barn was built by volunteers.

Now, over 300 exhibitors show up every year. And between 500 and 600 animals, the population grows when the show is in town.

Photos of children participating in a junior livestock show in Ferron, Utah. (KSL TV)

“The population of Ferron doubles during the stock show. So a lot of people around the state have ties to the barn … It’s kind of a landmark that will be missed,” Worwood said.

After the fire, locals agreed the show and legacy of the barn must go on. Families had been working wholeheartedly for over the last year toward the show, and the barn was the centerpiece of it all.

Kaylee Morris, head of the sheep department for the show, said the barn is more than just a building.

“I was raised in that barn,” she said.

She said she presented and cared for animals in the barn ever since she was a kid and introduced her own children to the love and responsibility of animals. Now, she’s also been through the heartache of seeing the barn burn.

“I saw that it was, like, engulfed in flames. It had just started in the pig barn when I went down,” Morris said.

Thankfully, nobody was inside the barn when the flames took over.

A junior livestock show that’s been performing for over 80 years was displaced after its home barn burned down. The barn was a historic landmark that was built during the Great Depression by volunteers. (Courtesy Kaylee Swasey)

The livestock show is a well-oiled machine after years of running, but some of the loss will need to be rebuilt from the ground up.

“No, no paper clips, you know. No, the tables we would use at the sale and for the week. Everything was lost … and now we have to take it all from scratch again,” said Committee Member Angie Jensen.

The show, which will be held July 10-13, will be moved to the next town over in Castle Dell, which offered its facility to be used for the 2024 show.

With plans to rebuild, the community is using the life lessons they gained inside the barn as a foundation moving forward.

“You pick it out. The best animal: You wash it, you walk it, you train it to lead, you practice your showmanship skills, and then you haul it to the show and you get dressed up and you go out in front of all these people,” Morris said.

They hope to have something to replace it in 2025 to hold the show in Ferron as usual.

Until then, they are rallying support for those who have worked so hard for this year.

A junior livestock show that’s been performing for over 80 years was displaced after its home barn burned down. The barn was a historic landmark that was built during the Great Depression by volunteers. (Courtesy Kaylee Swasey)

“How hard these kids have worked … We have people that come in and buy those animals and support the kids. So I think we need maybe more people to come and support those kids that have worked so hard on the animals,” Morris said.

To learn more about how to support kids in the show or donate during rebuilding efforts, the show has a Facebook page with more information.

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Junior livestock show displaced after historic barn burns down