ARCADIA – Melvin Schemm became an Arcadia Round Barn volunteer just three months ago, and already he’s had conversations with visitors from Germany, The Netherlands, Mexico, Australia and Canada. That’s in addition to all the people from Oklahoma and across the United States who have visited the Route 66 attraction while he is on duty.
“It’s surprising how many interesting people we get,” said Schemm, a retired farmer and native of Wallace County, Kansas. “I try to meet everybody who comes in.” Schemm, 80, said he signed on after someone at his church mentioned the Round Barn was in need of volunteers.
“I like to have something to do,” he said.
Schemm said he got hooked on volunteering while doing work for the Lutheran church. And talking to road trekkers comes naturally, he said, after spending many years in a second career as a recreational vehicle service technician for Holiday Rambler.
Volunteers who serve as tour guides love to tell the story of the barn that was built in 1898 by a pioneer farmer and rescued by local volunteers after the roof collapsed in 1988. The meticulous restoration was completed in 1992.
In addition to reigning as one of the best photo opportunities along Oklahoma’s portion of Route 66, the Round Barn serves Oklahoma residents as a venue for weddings and other special events, the site of a monthly acoustic music concert and a great place for school field trips. Local residents often bring their out-of-town guests. The gift shop offers Round Barn and Route 66 souvenirs, and proceeds help maintain the barn.
With spring break and the busy summer season approaching, the nonprofit Arcadia Historical Society is in need of more volunteers to greet visitors and run the gift shop. Volunteers work three-hour morning shifts or four-hour afternoon shifts and keep the barn open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
For more information or to become a Round Barn volunteer, contact Volunteer Coordinator Kimberly Burk at (405) 651-0240 or [email protected]