While memories may be forever, not so are monuments and memorials dedicated to the ones we love, especially if they are made from an organic and biodegradable material, such as wood.
The 44th District Agriculture Association voted unanimously Thursday to proceed with a tentative replacement program for approximately 200 memorial benches that have been placed around the fairgrounds.
Family and friends of deceased individuals with strong ties to the community or the Colusa County Fair have paid a nominal fee for the placement of redwood benches over the years, but many of the benches, some of which are more than 30 years old, have deteriorated from age, weather, and lack of maintenance, fair officials said.
“We’ve been trying to find ways to address this,” said Jamie Traynham, a member of the Colusa County Fair Board. “People have paid money. It’s their memory, and it’s important to the community, too.”
Jonathan Howard, Colusa County Fair chief executive officer, said fairgrounds staff spent an entire week taking photos of the benches, numbering them, and documenting where each bench belongs, while soliciting the community’s help to replace the memorials with whatever bench the Fair Board ultimately decides upon.
The Fair Board is considering portable benches made from sun-and-weather-resistance materials, which can be stored when not in use, moved for the set up and tear-down of exhibitions like the Farm Show, and placed at or near their original locations during the Colusa County fair where tripping hazards don’t exist.
The idea garnered support from one member of the public who attended Thursday’s Fair Board meeting.
“I don’t think we should build benches with redwood if they aren’t going to last,” Sandy Detlefsen told the Fair Board. “I think if we are going to do this, then we need to do it right.”
Detlefsen paid $150 for a bench three years ago in memory of the late Chet and Joy Shifflett, both members of the Colusa County Fair Board. She said she was very disappointed when she saw how much the wood had deteriorated in such a short period of time.
“It looks like it’s 100 years old,” she said.
Detlefsen suggested the Fair Board consider Trex benches, which are made from eco-friendly composite wood that is fade-resistant, able to withstand any type of weather, and guaranteed not to splinter, rot, or crack.
“I’m willing to pay more if it would last longer,” she said. “That bench is very important. It is in honor of Joy and Chet.”
The Fair Board last week said it would purchase one Trex bench to see how it looks, before making a final decision.
Glenn County uses the Trex product, but recommended additional support in the center where the slats tend to bow, Howard said.
If the benches are replaced with Trex, the Fair Board estimates the cost to be about $200 each.
They have not ruled out soliciting the help from clubs and organizations willing to help with replacement costs, but they also hope the original purchasers will come forward with an offer to help replace thier loved ones’ benches for the safety of the public and the aesthetics of the Colusa County Fairgrounds. ■