September 19, 2017

Barn Believers launches fund with country

By Kristy Smith

AUGUSTA – “Worth Saving” was the theme of the September 16 country music concert and the order of the day at the highly appropriate venue of The Barn Theatre, which hosted the launching of the new Barn Believers Community Project Fund at the Battle Creek Community Foundation.

Emceed by Leila Arboretum Society Executive Director Brett A. Myers, the event brought together dozens of people who love heritage barns and support their preservation. Brendan Ragotzy, producer at the Barn Theatre, told the story behind the barn in which the audience was seated.

Under the direction of Sheila Miklusicak, the GB3 Players, comprised of youthful 4-Hers and theatre arts students, followed with song and dance to “The Great Big Beautiful Barn.” The song was composed by Robert Learner of Battle Creek and 16-year-old Drea Smith served as musical director and choreographer of the production number.

“Barn Lady” Jan Corey Arnett, a major catalyst behind Barn Believers, described how the Barn Believers Community Project Fund establishment originated and the mission of the organization, to inform, inspire and connect people with traditional barns to encourage their continuing use in agriculture, community and the economy. Corey Arnett thanked the Battle Creek Community Foundation and initial Barn Believers Advisory Board members, Lee Peck and A.J. Jones, both of whom actively-use their heritage barns.

“I get really emotional about barns and what we have been working on with the Community Foundation,” Corey Arnett told the audience. “I can’t say thank-you enough for all the support we have received that is making this possible.”

By way of introduction of The Richard Lynch Band’s lead singer, Richard Lynch, Corey Arnett shared she had met him in the Upper Peninsula following one of his band’s performances. That led her to ask if he would write a song about why heritage barns are “worth saving,” which he did with Jerry Hughes. Hence, the name of the show to launch the new Barn Believers Community Project Fund at the Battle Creek Community Foundation. “Worth Saving” is featured on The Richard Lynch Band’s latest CD, “Mending Fences.”

Prior to the show, Richard Lynch, his band members and his wife, Donna, hung out at The Rehearsal Shed to meet and greet “Worth Saving” concert-goers. Casually gracious, they expressed heartfelt support for the Barn Believers’ work.

“I’m a farm boy, so I get the importance of barns and saving them,” Lynch said. His Waynesville, OH residence features a barn that can seat 400. He uses it for musical performances. That’s one form of creative barn re-purposing. Lynch said his love of heritage barns rendered him both honored and equipped to support the work of the Michigan Barn Believers.

When The Richard Lynch Band finally took the stage at The Barn Theatre, their original songs, as well as updated covers of classic country hits were featured. The audience was transported as far away as Amarillo and Tulsa before getting eased back into their Augusta seats for an encore of “Worth Saving.”

“What can I say? I am thrilled, I am emotional and I am exhausted at all the attention the barns and the Barn Believers Community Project Fund” has received here tonight,” said Corey Arnett from the resource table set up in the foyer of The Barn Theatre. “But this is just the start. It’s going to be an ongoing effort with a lot of great possibilities for people and their barns.”

Those interested in making a charitable contribution may send it to: Barn Believers Community Project Fund, c/o Battle Creek Community Foundation, 32 W. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1, Battle Creek, MI 49017. Online donations can be made at www.bccfoundation.org/giving/Barn-Believers.