Of Timber Hall
The Timber Hall was built on a 40-acre plot of land that was once a potato field. The land was purchased by the Embarrass Region Fair Association in 1986 and would be the future site of the Timber Hall. In those days, the annual Fair was held across the highway at the old Embarrass School. Lunch was served from the school kitchen and at night there was live music and dancing in gymnasium. Over the years, the condition of the school which was built in 1935, had deteriorated; it became evident that the Association needed its own permanent building for the Fair. A dedicated group of volunteers envisioned a huge multi-purpose log building that would be used for the Fair, and for private events, celebrations and as a community center. When completed, Timber Hall would be the “largest freestanding log building of its kind in the country.”
A local log home builder drew the plans for the 84’ X 144’ log building. Funding came from a grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) and local businesses donated the use of heavy equipment. However, it would have been impossible to build Timber Hall without the thousands of hours of volunteer labor provided by area residents.
Volunteers felled and hand-peeled the bark from more than 200 red pines that were donated by Embarrass Township. For two months, men, women, and children sat on rugs placed over the felled logs to keep sap from sticking to their clothes, and peeled bark using two-handled draw knives.
Timber Hall was built the “old way” using techniques that originated in Europe. Each log was individually hand-scribed and fitted together. As the walls went up, the vision of what it would be caught on, and more and more volunteers showed up to help. Women got together to prepare and deliver lemonade and food to the volunteers. Others brought grills to cook on-site. The Timber Hall had truly become a community effort.
Probably the biggest outpouring of public support occurred on the day the cement mixers arrived to pour the floor. Concrete trucks backed-up to the four rough openings for the doors and more than 100 volunteers, using wheel barrows, poured 156 yards of concrete in less than five hours. One volunteer drove from Wisconsin with a wheelbarrow tied to the top of his VW bug to help.
Construction was completed in 1991. The huge log building remained nameless until an ad was placed requesting suggestions. The name “Timber Hall” was submitted anonymously, and accepted immediately! To this day, no one knows who submitted the name. Timber Hall was dedicated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the first night of the 52nd Annual Embarrass Region Fair. The dedication was followed by a dance that drew more than 1,200 people and packed the Timber Hall.
The Embarrass Region Fair Association owes an enormous debt of gratitude to the volunteers whose vision and hard work made the Timber Hall possible. Today the Association and the Timber Hall Event Center continues to be operated and maintained by volunteers.