Members of the Duchesne Utah Stake attest to the fact there is strength in numbers - especially when it comes to building a barn.
The stake recently conducted its first Pioneer Fair, and in the process raised a 1,200-square-foot barn at the Dean Peterson ranch in only eight hours. The ranch is part of a community of several homes called Strawberry River, located near the river 14 miles west of Duchesne.And building the barn was just part of the fun.
In addition, more than 700 people spent the day learning more about emergency preparedness by reflecting on how their pioneer ancestors dealt with challenges of survival.
Fair demonstrations included food storage and rotation; Dutch oven cooking; fire building; mountain men skills; horse packing and shoeing; chain saw and knife sharpening; bee keeping; quilting; candle, soap and butter making; water sanitation; horse-drawn plowing; and a pistol shoot and rifle display by the University of Utah Law Enforcement Division.
And there were other activities, including pioneer games, wagon rides, hog calling, cow milking, clogging, square dancing, pony rides, and a mutton dinner and opening ceremony with remarks by Elder Errol Phippen, regional representative of the Roosevelt Utah Region, of which the Duchesne stake is part.
"It was an excellent event," Elder Phippen noted. "There were hundreds of people involved - from little children to adults. There was a great spirit. It brought that stake together probably better than anything else they could have done.
"There must have been 30 carpenters working on the barn, plus many other volunteers. To see the group come together and work for one person really exemplifies the welfare principles of love, service and work."
Stake Pres. C. Leland Wright said the fair will be an annual event, and it has already been scheduled for next year.
"It provided tremendous fellowship for members and non-members alike," said Pres. Wright. "It was a great experience for the stake."
Before stake members showed up to build the barn, the Petersons purchased materials for the barn and poured the concrete foundation walls.
"We had it lined out and ready to go," Peterson explained. "We started about 10 a.m. and had it up and finished about 6 o' clock. It was a lot of fun and got a lot of people together. We had a lot of less-active members and non-members come and participate. The barn, which will have a 16-foot by 40-foot room upstairs, will be used mostly for storage and to work on machinery."
Peterson said the project was organized with six or seven experienced contractors, each heading a crew of seven people. Each invited an Aaronic Priesthood holder, elderly person, less-active member and non-member to be part of the crew. And quite a few sisters and young women participated, too.
"I was surprised at the young people; they put a lot of nails in," said Peterson. "It was quite a thing. Everybody worked together to frame the wooden building, and then they all worked on the tin roof. One thing we did learn was that if the need ever did arise, people could get together and put up some shelters pretty fast if they had to."
The Petersons were selected as recipients of the barn raising when their name was drawn from among 11 stake members interested in having barns constructed. This was the first time a barn was raised in one day in the Uintah Basin in 50 years, according to Margie Van Tassell, stake public communications director.
Sister Van Tassell explained the philosophy behind the pioneer fair theme: "I think our pioneer ancestors didn't necessarily think about being prepared for emergencies, because they faced those things every day. We have so many conveniences that we sometimes forget we can look back at how they coped and learn from what they did, if we are placed in similar circumstances."