Old McDonald's Farm recovering after devastating fire - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Old McDonald's Farm recovering after devastating fire

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For many, a visit to Old McDonald's Farm in Sale Creek is a fall tradition, especially heading into Halloween weekend. But the farm's fall festivities were put on hold for a while after a large fire ripped through a barn on the property in mid-October.

"This is nothing like I've ever had to deal with," states Brant Crowder, manager of Old McDonald's Farm.

He's been through many ups and downs in the business, but it was the fire on October 11 that he thought might do him in. He lost a storage barn along with several tractors and a lot of tools, right in the middle of fall festival season.

"It basically just makes everything take two to three times longer to do because we have to go elsewhere to get what we need to get," explains Crowder.

He's borrowed equipment from neighbors and rented some from local shops.

Crowder and his staff now have no workshop for rainy days.

"Work on stuff and try to upgrade things or tighten this or tighten that," adds Crowder. "We have to do it outside."

Important paperwork burned in the fire, too.

"We lost our field manual with all of our contact information," says Crowder.

The nearly 200-year-old farm, known for its petting zoo, pumpkin patches, and hay rides is still owned by the McDonald family. Crowder didn't think he could keep the legacy going this year, but he re-opened less than a week after the fire. He says he couldn't have done it without the support of the community offering help and continuing to visit--people like Kerribeth Tew and her two children.

"They were very concerned about the barn and the animals," says Tew about her young son and daughter. "So we explained to then that no animals or people were hurt in the fire. So they were okay with that and still very excited to come."

Halloween festivities are still planned for Saturday and Crowder hopes the next round of rain holds off long enough. He also commends the hard work and emotional strength of his staff.

"Everybody has worked well together and I think we're going to make it through," adds Crowder.

He says insurance will probably cover less than half the cost of the repairs, but he's still waiting for the final report. He'll start clean up in a few weeks after a wedding takes place at the farm. For now the area where the fire happened remains "roped off" with police tape.

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