BUCKHANNON —Skateland will be reopening for the season this Friday, celebrating their 70th anniversary. Many residents of the town know the nostalgic feeling when it comes to the local skating rink and sharing the wonderful memories it has created.
It’s been quite some time since Skateland first opened back in 1950. The building was built for a skating rink and has always remained true to its purpose – a place for families and friends to enjoy roller skating. Robert Stell, current owner of Skateland, has owned the business for nearly the entire time it has been in operation. The business was first owned by Stewart and Bee Farhner of Helvetia, WV, but Stell would help regularly at the skating rink when he was younger. Stell eventually became a full-time partner, assisting the Farhner’s until they retired in the mid 1960s, when Stell became the new official owner.
There have been many changes and improvements to the business over the years, but it has kept its traditional touch. Computerized, high-intensity lighting, along with a new rich sound system, were added to the facility in the 80s and 90s. Music has indeed changed greatly over the years, but the Stells have kept to their roots and continue to stick with old classics, while also keeping up with current music. “Dad’s been the owner for about 60 years now. Back in the 60s and 70s, it was more of a teen hangout, but it’s heavily changed to a more family-oriented atmosphere,” Stell’s son Bobby said, as he has helped his father with the business for many years now. The Stells have familiar faces to the local community, as they also provide professional DJ and karaoke services for parties and events. They have been providing music and karaoke entertainment for 30 years for birthdays, weddings, reunions, corporate parties, and school events.
“There used to be another skating rink in Buckhannon over where Suddenlink offices are now, but only lasted about three years or so. We bought out a lot of other skating rinks that went out of business nearby. Some of our skates we got over from Elkins and Bridgeport after their skating rinks went out of business,” Stell mentioned. “Our sound system came out of a big rink in Huntington, and we just rebuilt the hallway this summer, too.”
The Stells have certainly put much effort into maintaining the business and its structure. “The hallway floor was getting a little creaky and worn, so we went ahead and ripped it out and replaced it,” Stell said. “When they were first laying the floor for the rink long ago and it was finished, I was the first person that skated here,” he recalled.
The community is fortunate that Stell’s business has been around all this time, as many have made fond memories and can continue to share that with their children. Skateland will be celebrating 70 years of skating and entertainment as they reopen Friday, September 13. The rink will be open for the public on Friday and Saturday nights 7-9 p.m. and Sunday afternoons 2-4 p.m.