RICKREALL — The Polk County Fairgrounds and Event Center board of directors was contemplating retiring its past-its-prime stage when Samuel Noack called Fair Manager Tina Andersen.
A Boy Scout since the age of 8, Noack, a senior at Dallas High School, had reached the rank of Eagle Scout and needed to complete a community service project to put the capstone on his scouting career.
“Once you become an Eagle, kind of the crowning event of being a Boy Scout is you get to do the service project,” Noack said.
He said Eagle Scouts find, plan, and raise money for their projects on their own, but he had a little help in selecting his cause.
“My boss — he ended up being one of my mentors on the project. He’s a member of the Dallas Rotary and so, I decided to ask him if he knew of any good projects because of the Rotary, and he said the fairgrounds had a lot that needed done, so I called Tina,” Noack said. “She said that the stage was a needed project.”
That may be an understatement. Andersen said parts of the stage, which is made of 20, 4-by-8-foot pieces, were held together with duct tape.
“I bought it in 1999 from Disneyland, and it was a good 10 years old when I bought it,” Andersen said. “It was in very poor condition on the top. They have been well-used over the years though.”
Andersen said something needed to be done about the stage, but she wasn’t sure what.
The metal frames were still in good condition, so she thought replacing the boards would be less costly than buying a new stage.
Even that ended up being expensive.
“It’s a benefit to any event here, but it’s not a big revenue-generator,” she said. “We may have just told people if they wanted a stage, go rent one, because we were getting to the point where we were almost afraid to put (the stage) out. We were afraid someone was going to get hurt.”
It was a big project, so when Noack said yes, Andersen said the fair board was the first to contribute support to the project, covering about half of the cost.
“We still saved a ton of money though,” she said.
Noack took about two weeks to raise the rest of the needed funds from Dallas-area businesses and organizations. Then it was time for planning and gathering volunteers to do the work.
“We ended up replacing everything besides the frames,” Noack said. “We replaced the plywood and that had a plastic cover on it. But we decided to replace it with vinyl flooring.”
The night before Noack’s 30 volunteers arrived on Nov. 19, he and his family did a trial run.
“We stayed here until 12:30 a.m., tearing apart quite a few (stage sections). We put one together completely to figure out how to do everything,” Noack said. “Then we woke up at 6 the next day to make sure that everything was ready. The project itself, we completed it in one day once we got everyone there.”
Volunteers arrived at the fairgrounds at 8 a.m. and left at 5:30 p.m. with all 20 sections restored.
“It will get used quite a bit this year,” Andersen said. “It was a great project. Samuel was just fantastic to work with. We could not have afforded to do it without this being a project like he did.”
Noack said, with a smile, that at the time he was stressed about getting the job done.
“It was exciting once it happened. The process leading up to it was quite a bit of work. I actually didn’t think it was going to all come together,” he said. “But once we had everyone there, it was just fun to see everything coming together.”