Madison Daily Leader, 04/26/2012
By ELISA SAND, Staff Reporter
Prairie Village may be gearing up for its 50th anniversary jamboree at the end of this summer, but a host of activities will be taking place prior to the jamboree along with a number of projects.
Prairie Village officially opens May 6 with its annual consignment auction May 5. The season kickstarts with school tours in May. Prairie Village Manager Stan Rauch said so far they are anticipating visits from 900 students. New events planned this summer include expanded activities during Railroad Days July 7-8. New additions include a pizza train July 7 at 6 p.m. and a performance by Something New that same day at 8 p.m.
“That will be a benefit fund-raiser for the continued welfare of the opera house,” Rauch said.
The Opera House was built in 1912. Restoration work took place in 2008 that included a new roof, pulling in bowed walls and putting new support beams beneath the balcony. This summer, work is taking place backstage to the bathrooms and dressing rooms.
Although recent work has taken place, Rauch said, continued work will be needed to preserve the now 100-year-old building.
Rauch said one goal is also to utilize the opera house more for performances. In addition to Something New, the Opera House will be used for evening entertainment during White Night June 16 and it will be used for a theatrical production of “The Greater Tuna,” which will be presented by the Furman Community Theater. Rauch said the date is still being set, but he anticipates the performance during the first week in July.
“We hope this can be an annual event with more than one performance,” he said.
Other work that has already taken place this spring includes the installation of foundations beneath the library and the gas station. Officials are also currently working to replace railroad ties and elevate the ground at the railroad crossing by the gift shop entrance. The roundhouse will also get a new coat of stain this summer.
Work was also completed on the red shed, one of the original buildings first built on the Prairie Village grounds. This work included a new roof, siding and doors.
Prairie Village is also getting a new addition this year — a 32x28x32-ft granary from the Nunda area. The granary will be placed east of the corn crib on the south side of the grounds and includes a 3hp John Deere stationary engine, a John Deere bucket elevator, a wagon hoist and a Lutz burr mill.
Lastly, two major projects are moving forward this year, which include restoration work on Chapel Car Emmanuel and Steam Engine #29.
Rauch said a skilled carpenter from England, Peter Ingham has been hired to complete the interior restoration work on the Chapel car and he is currently working on pieces he brought back to England.
As for Steam Engine #29, this restoration project to get the engine functioning again will also be taking place this summer thanks to a $60,000 donation. Rauch said a recent assessment completed on the steam engine recently estimated that work would cost about $60,000. Wrigley Machine of Fargo, N.D., will complete the work.
Work could start soon, Rauch said, but he”s unsure at this point, how long the restoration work will take to complete.
“It”s taken all these years to get it where it”s at,” he said. “We hope to have it done by Jamboree, but we don”t know.”
With regards to the Jamboree in August, Rauch said the interest in the event started much earlier than usual from vendors, exhibitors and flea market participants. Officials have already started work on logistics and they hope to set up a shuttle bus that will bring visitors back and forth from Madison to alleviate traffic congestion on SD-34.
James River Equipment is also restoring a 1962-era tractor that will be on display at various events this summer. Anyone can enter for a chance to win and semi-finalists will be drawn at each event. The winner will be drawn at Prairie Village during the jamboree and ticket holders must be present to win.