HOMEDALE, Idaho — Fourth of July weekend events are in full swing. Some may have wrapped up Saturday, while others are putting final touches on their celebrations for Sunday.
However, just a little more than 24 hours before the 40th Annual Fourth of July Demolition Derby, a fire burned down a part of the Owyhee County Fairgrounds where Homedale Lions Club hosts their celebration.
Owyhee County Sheriff's Office said they dispatched deputies and Homedale Fire crews to the fairgrounds for a fire around 6:15 am Saturday. It destroyed the rodeo arena beer garden structures.
Homedale Lions Club President Will Pryor said investigators told him the fire was arson.
"It just kind of upsets you a little bit that somebody would be that harming towards this community," said Pryor. "This isn't just us, it's the community that they harm."
The Demolition Derby is the largest event the Homedale Lions Club puts on each year. Money raised goes towards scholarships, athletic teams around town, supporting FFA chapters and more.
Pryor still plans to hold the Derby Sunday.
Usually, the day before the event, the non-profit and Owyhee County Fair crews are getting the arena ready for the Derby. They still were Saturday, but they had to add clean up the damage and rebuild the beer garden to that to-do list.
"Well it just kind of hurts your feelings, it's community property and it's public property," said Lath Callaway, the president of the Fair Board. "Everybody is welcome to use it."
Upon hearing the news of the fire, the community of Homedale quickly reached out to Pryor and the Lions Club to see what they could do to help and make sure the Demolition Derby was still going on. Pryor said he got offers of donated tents, money, anything to help rebuild the beer garden.
Crews were able to build a new booth and beer garden Saturday afternoon.
After all that happened Saturday, Pryor said there was never a moment he thought the annual event was not going to continue on this Fourth of July. Seeing all of the community members and neighbors outpouring support makes it all the more worthwhile.
"We are just fortunate to have a great community that is behind us all the way to help us get this pulled off," Pryor said.
Anyone with any information on the fire is asked to contact Homedale Police and Owyhee County Sheriff's Office. Homedale Lions Club and the Owyhee County Fair said they will offer a $500 reward to find who started the fire.
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