When not turning back time for the West Virginia Renaissance Festival, Hollow Hills Farm is a peaceful place for animals to spend their quiet time. But more than a week ago, a devastating fire turned dreams to ashes for co-owner, Dawn Kieninger.

“[I] raced out here to see if there was something I could do, but it was so cold that night, that all our hoses were frozen,” Kieninger said. “We had fire extinguishers all around the outside of the barn, but it was too close,so they were already in the flames.” 

Her fellow co-owner, Taso Stavrakis, said he was in South Carolina visiting his father, who was having a stroke.

“I was down there dealing with that, and Dawn called me in the middle of the night and gave me the bad news,” Stavrakis said.

The timber-framed barn was the biggest building on Kieninger the property. 

Kieninger and Stavrakis said a faulty heating lamp toppled over by an animal and strong, gusty winds were to blame for its destruction, taking the lives of a cow, some chickens, and a few baby goats.

To them, the barn was more than a house for their livestock. It had incredible potential for more.

“It had a lot of use that was supposed to happen in the future,” Stavrakis said. “There was [going to be] living quarters upstairs, a bed and breakfast. There were guest rooms that were that close to renting out.” 

But even with the loss, the festival is still on, with or without a barn.

“It’s got to,” Stavrakis said. “The show must go on.” 

Kieninger and Stavrakis are still waiting to hear anything from the insurance company for coverage. Stavrakis said a large tent will be set up once the rubble is cleared, with a new barn to be constructed in the future.