Barn-raiser

Mary Simon, left, and new partner Abby Reel, hope to erect a new Barn III out of the reclaimed remnants of the tornado-damaged Barn II Dinner Theatre in Goodfield.

TIFFANY WYSE FISHER, For The Pantagraph

GOODFIELD — The Barn may be back.

Or so hope newly minted partners Mary Simon and Abby Reel, who've teamed to raise a new Conklin Players barn in Goodfield using salvaged remnants of the one disabled by an August tornado two years ago.

In a Labor Day Facebook posting, Simon timed the announcement to a red-letter date in Conklin history: "It was Labor Day 1975 when Chaunce and Mary began working on the Barn Dinner Theater in Goodfield. So it's only fitting that today we share the exciting news."

The key element: Simon's joining forces with Reel, a former Conklin employee who began bussing tables in high school, then worked her way up to waitress and stage performer.

Together, they plan to rebuild the barn from the ground up, using reclaimed wood from the 76-year-old cattle sale barn.

It has been christened "Barn III." 

The news comes on the heels of Simon's early-July announcement of the Players' farewell season at Five Points Washington, where the troupe has been performing a limited season of one-weekend shows for the past two years.

"I can't afford to produce anymore ... I just don't have the funds to continue," she told The Pantagraph in a July 2 story.

All of that has changed with her new partner's involvement.

"Once I made that decision (to close at Five Points), Abby called with the new idea," said Simon. "Amazing, isn't it? The Lord works in mysterious ways!" 

"Timing is everything," added her new partner.

"The majority of the project will be out of my own pocket," said Reel, who Simon has known "since she was a toddler."

"The banks have requested at least $100,000 down to secure the construction loan," she said. "I don't have that kind of money just lying around, plus we are purchasing the (adjoining) brick house to complete the parcel and reunite the barn with the original farm."

Simon said an ongoing legal battle with the insurance company that denied her claim for the 2015 weather damages "is in discovery and depositions ... it is progressing."

The house will be incorporated into Barn III as not only a theater but a home for "weddings, community events, musical artists, comedians and more."

Reel said construction will begin when $100,000 is reached via what is billed as a "Barn Raising Campaign" seeking donations "of any size" via www.thebarnIII.com. Since the new venture is a for-profit organization, gifts are not tax-deductible.

"We have financial support from the banking parts of our project," added Simon. "But we need financial support from our loyal supporters to secure the construction loan. Once that is in place, we will be in full action to reopen November/December 2018 with 'The Best of Barn Christmas.'"

The partners say they hope that local business will "get on board" via donations that will serve as free marketing via sidewalk stones, program advertising and other perks.

"I think the secret to success is keeping the venue full of activity ... and making sure that we're meeting the needs of all ages in our community," said Reel.

"We both have the same work ethic and energy," added Simon. "Abby is the only one I would partner with on this huge project and rebuild ... her vision is wonderful."

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