The New Frontier: "Build it Better" - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

The New Frontier: "Build it Better"

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Google “Shelby Carousel” and a "permanently closed" alert pops up. But that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

"It's a long story, but I'll try to be brief."

But it's a story with a simple message: if it's broken, you fix it.

"Well it was in bad shape. It was greasy and dirty. And so I worked on it all winter and all summer," says Shelby Carousel founder Harry Benjamin.

After purchasing the carousel in 2016 and finding the perfect piece of property...

"This is a beautiful location right next to the Pizza Hut, right next to hotels and some other city properties."

... things started moving quickly for the attraction, and every piece of the 1936 carousel has been touched by the community. Details like personal brands on each animal to represent local sponsors, and more rides handmade by Harry such as a small helicopter and plasma cars.

Volunteers even helped make a potluck-style kitchen possible, so the space can be rented for special events and parties.

"It’s a real unique situation for a little town like Shelby to have a carousel," Harry points out.

The project has so far been funded thanks to a grant, a loan, Harry's personal funds, and donations of every size, including quite a few from children in the area.

"And they said so we've been saving our money and we want to donate some money to the carousel, we want to be a part of this carousel. So they gave me $25 in cash. And so yeah that brought some tears."

But regardless of where the money came from, most folks in Shelby said the same thing: this wouldn't have happened without Harry. And for Harry, it was a no-brainer.

"I farmed all my life and had to build machinery to work less in the early days, they didn't make farm machinery in the 50's when I started in 1950, my dad homesteaded in 1909.... 8th grade was as far as I got, but I learned how to weld, just by buying a machine and learning how to weld and cutting and torching and so on, start building things and if it breaks, well you got to build it better."

But Harry stays modest.

"It's a community project, it don't belong to any one person. Some have got more money into it than others, but that's not the idea, it's a community project."

"Nobody ever comes in here without a smile. They gotta smile or they can't come in here."

The Shelby Carousel is having a grand opening this on May 19th. For more information, you can call Harry at 406-450-5279. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 283, Shelby, MT 59474. There is also a “Shelby Carousel” account open for direct donations at the First State Bank of Shelby. 

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