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By Holly Fesperman LeeSalisbury Post
Even though they weren’t listed on the program, the animals that live in the new Stanback Petting Barn at Dan Nicholas Park had their say in Friday’s dedication.
One very vocal sheep or goat left the crowd overcome with laughter after he decided to comment on Arnold Chamberlain’s speech.
Jack Kepley, chairman of the Rowan County Parks and Recreation Commission, took the podium to get the ceremony started. After thanking all who helped make the petting barn possible, Kepley introduced “my friend, Arnold Chamberlain.”
Chamberlain stepped to the podium and started to tell the crowd what an honor it was to be called Kepley’s friend.
In one of Chamberlain’s most sincere moments, a nearby stall resident blurted out “Bahhh!”
Chamberlain could barely regain his composure and finish the speech, but when he did try to speak again the talkative animal obviously wasn’t finished ó he started commenting again.
As Chamberlain said, “This facility is amazing,” another loud “Bahhh” came from the nearby stall.
“We didn’t do that on purpose,” Kepley said.
As the talkative animal settled down, County Commissioner Tina Hall announced that the petting barn will be known as the T.M. Stanback Petting Barn and also the Red Hoof Inn ó donations from community members have made outstanding accommodations possible for the petting barn animals, she said.
She called the barn “a wonderful addition to an already incredible park.”
“Our citizens are blessed to have such a unique recreational resource,” Hall said.
Dave Morris, vice chairman of the parks and recreation panel, said he was thinking earlier of how he would convey his appreciation to donors.
Morris said he came to the conclusion that “a genuine heartfelt thank you” was all that was needed.
“Not just for me or the parks commission but thank you for all Rowan County citizens,” he said.
Dignitaries cut a large red ribbon to signal the public opening of the T.M. Stanback petting barn.
Don Bringle, Rowan County Parks and Recreation director, concluded the ceremony saying “it’s great to see such a large crowd out here.”
“You know 15 months ago there was a devastating tragedy but today there’s a rebirth,” Bringle said.
Kaitlynn Sivula, 4, was visiting Sam the donkey after the dedication ceremony was over.
“I like the donkey,” she said.
Cheyenne Plummer, 10, was also checking out Sam’s new home.
She’s got a miniature donkey of her own at home but still enjoys coming to see the Dan Nicholas animals.
“We have tons of animals,” said Tonya Plummer.
Tonya brings the family and some friends to Dan Nicholas at least a couple time a month she said.
As for the new barn “I think it’s beautiful,” Tonya said.
Dakota Speagle, 11, was checking in on Barclay the pig in his new home.
His mom, Dawn Speagle, explained that her son helped raise about $200 for the project at Bostain Elementary school.
When the family heard about the fire “the kids were pretty upset that someone would do that,” she said.
Dawn helped her son buy buckets to place in each classroom at Bostain and children brought in their change.
The family moved from North Dakota about 11 years ago and Dawn said her children have been coming to Dan Nicholas ever since they were small.
Tina Whitaker and her family were visiting from Albemalre and just happened to make the trip on the day of the petting barn opening.
“It’s nice to see it back open again,” she said.
Right now the petting barn is home several different kinds of animals including Jacob sheep that haven’t been named yet, Barclay the pig, Sam the donkey, Midnight, Sampson and Angel ó all pygmy goats, sheep Dawn and Sophie and Rupert the cow.
Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or hlee@salisburypost.com.

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