Foundation pushes for a barn-raising

By: matt steiner
June 12, 2013 Updated: June 12, 2013 at 5:25 pm

A little more than two decades ago, Nick Venetucci came out of his house south of Colorado Springs and found his barn lying in a heap.

According to Pikes Peak Community Foundation executive director Mike Hannigan, strong winds blew the barn down at the Venetucci Farm off U.S. Highway 85.

Hannigan said the barn was more than 100 years old when it toppled over. Nick Venetucci had grown too old to build a new barn himself, so he had workers "move it off to the side after salvaging what they could," Hannigan said.

In 2006, the foundation bought the farm, which has been a Pikes Peak region icon for more than 70 years. Hannigan and his team kicked off a fundraising initiative Tuesday night with a private reception for donors and others.

The foundation needs another $250,000, which it aims to raise in six weeks. The total cost of the barn is about $450,000, Hannigan said.

"The goal is to have it built before this winter," said Rachel Beck, a spokeswoman for the foundation.

Beck said a public kickoff for the barn project will take place at Venetucci Farm on Saturday. The event is free and runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Hannigan said visitors on Saturday will be able to see architectural renderings.

Beck said donors will have their names etched on a barn wall once it is built.

Another name will also adorn the barn.

Hannigan said the new barn will be called "The Nina B. Barn" after a Pikes Peak region woman who died during the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack on the World Trade Center in New York. He said Nina B., whose family wanted a certain level of anonymity, had only been working at the Trade Center for a couple of days when it was attacked.

Attendance at the farm has risen each year since the Pikes Peak Community Foundation took over.

"This year we're probably on track for about 20,000 visitors," Hannigan said, noting that in 2008 the farm had about 2,000 people come through the property that became famous for its Pumpkins for Kids program.

Ever since the Venetuccis bought the farm in 1936, the farm has provided free pumpkins to children. More than 6,000 pumpkins were given to area kids in 2012.

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