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Posted on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 : 11:48 a.m.

Fire destroys dance barn at Sugarbush Farms in Superior Township

By Pete Cunningham

A fire completely destroyed the barn at Sugarbush Farms in Superior Township Sunday evening.

The Superior Township Fire Department arrived at the farm, located at 3620 Gotfredson Road, at 5:15 p.m. to find the roof of the two-story barn completely engulfed in flames. Ann Arbor Township, Salem Township and Northfield Township fire departments also responded to the scene.

It took firefighters roughly an hour and a half to get the fire under control. Firefighters were on the scene until around 9 p.m. extinguishing all the flames, according to Capt. Ronald Smith of the Superior Township Fire Department.

"The barn was a complete loss," Smith said. "We were able to salvage some equipment, some tools and an awning that was near the front, but very little."

Joe Tashnick, 71, owner of Sugarbush Farms, has offered educational tours to school children at the farm since 1971. He said the barn is where children on tours would eat lunch and milk cows, and the upstairs was where dances would be held for evening parties. No animals were housed in the barn at the time of the fire, and the tractor used for hayrides was out of the barn as well.

Tashnick estimated it would cost $125,000 to completely rebuild. The barn was uninsured.

"That was our source of income, thankfully there were no animals in at the time, they were all out," Tashnick said.

Tashnick said he had another barn fire at Sugarbush in the spring of 1980.

Tashnick said there were four furnaces on the second floor of the barn with lit pilots and suspects that is where the fire originated. Smith said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Tashnick, who along with his wife, Charlene, run Sugarbush Farms with some part-time help, is unsure whether he'll rebuild the barn. He estimated 3,000 to 5,000 students participate in tours annually.

"If I can arrange some loans I will (rebuild). It’s a fun trip for kids and it gives city kids an opportunity to touch something," Tashnick said.

He still hopes to offer tours, hayrides and parties, but will need to have a building with bathrooms first.

"We have to figure out how to get in bathrooms because they were in the barn and that’s gone now," Tashnick said.

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Contact Pete Cunningham at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.



Wed, May 2, 2012 : 12:18 a.m.

A friend of mine owns a huge farm near Saline. This person said it reminded her of an incident that occurred years ago. Coincidence? Maybe. I really hope not.


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

Donations can be sent through PayPal to Please pass along to anyone who can help! Every little bit helps. Farmer Joe is an incredible individual - so kind and caring. Let's help him through this dark time.


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.

I agree with you Julie - A good old fashioned barn raising would be a wonderful idea. I am willing to show up and help, hammer in hand.


Mon, Apr 30, 2012 : 10:59 p.m.

That is just sad. I am, however happy to know that no one was injured or killed. I'm so glad the animals were safe. It would be great if someone could hold and old-fashioned barn-raising, It would bring the community together. Perhaps a fund for supplies could started...instructions as to where and how to donate, Hey, I can'y even hammer a nail, and I'd help.


Thu, May 3, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

Donations can be sent through PayPal to Please pass along to anyone who can help! Every little bit helps.


Mon, Apr 30, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

Sad event to be sure -- so many good things were happening at that farm. Hopefully, we can get a barn rising going. God Bless.


Mon, Apr 30, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

Hopefully they had insurance??


Mon, Apr 30, 2012 : 10:36 p.m.

The article said they did not.


Mon, Apr 30, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

Glad to hear nobody or any animals were hurt..if there is a place to donate money please post it.


Thu, May 3, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

Donations can be sent through PayPal to Please pass along to anyone who can help! Every little bit helps.