Lonnie Durfee, 49, was charged with burning personal property and is set to be arraigned on Tuesday in Central Berkshire District Court in Pittsfield.
The large sign comprised of about 20 bales of hay was put up at Holiday Farm on Thursday, according to Facebook posts by farm owner Dicken Crane. The installation had the last names of Democratic presidential ticket of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris written on the white plastic bale coverings along with "USA," "vote" and American flags.
The fire was reported about 6:42 p.m. with firefighters and police responding to the scene. Video from Facebook shows a roiling inferno and black smoke rising from the blaze.
Crane said on Facebook that he created the sign because the Trump banners were getting under his skin. A number of peoples posted picture of the completed sign or stopped to have their pictures taken with it.
"[It] didn't take long .... It's actually hard to believe anyone who says they love this country would do this," Crane posted on Friday night with an image of burning hay bale.
Dalton Police say this is an ongoing investigation with the state fire marshal. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department at 413-684-0300.
"I feel like it's a bigger conversation than I you and I can even have, it's more than just my conversation it's everybody's. We won't be silenced, don't be sorry, just vote," said the farm's vegetable manager, Kate Carney, on Saturday.
Carney spoke on behalf of the farm when she said the message sent by burning the sign was louder than the sign itself and that the response from the community has been nothing but supportive.
She was hired about six years ago to amp up the vegetable production, which has since expanded each year. Though she is not a relative of the Cranes who own Holiday Brook Farm, she says they all feel like one big farm family.
Carney said she felt like the sign had been an expression of support for a lot of area people who "needed a voice."
"The sign was loud, the the sign was big, and the amount of support and attention that it has received since is just bigger than the sign its self," she said. "I'm proud of it and I'm so much more proud of what has come since the last 12 hours."
Nearly 20 bales weighing in at 1,000 pounds each were used to construct it. Each bail is worth about $65 a piece but are scarce during the current drought, meaning that because of this loss, the farm will have to outsource more hay to feed its animals.
"There's a lot of ways to look at how much it's valued at," Carney said. "They're worth $65 each but also we're making hay in a season during a drought where we already have to buy hay to feed the herd anyway, so now we have to source hay from somewhere else again."
She explained that the community has come forward to help the farm replace the hay. People were outraged over the act that was both a destruction of property and a destruction of food that fed many animals, she said.
"The outpouring of help for us to replace the hay is amazing," she said. "But as far as we're all concerned, the amount of hay lost is worth every blade of grass for the message that was put out there and for how the community has come together. Both sides, all sides."
"At the end of the day it's not always going to be an election season and we all still need to live together as one community and support each other through our differences," Carney added.
Holiday Brook Farm is a four-generation farm of the Crane family. Ruth and Dicken Crane own the farm currently with the help of their son, Adam. They supply surrounding areas with pork, beef, lamb, maple syrup, vegetables, and compost supply. They also grow hay for their grass-fed cows, which makes for a healthier meat.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, they have received a great amount of business from people sourcing local food and starting their own gardens. The Biden/Harris sign also brought a lot of interest to their property.
"I noticed a lot of cars stop to take pictures, I got messages from people," Carney said. "We also got a lot of attention when we were painting them, good and bad."
The farm has constructed a smaller four-bale sign that reads "B/H Vote." Carney says she wants to rebuild the entire thing, and that she has received offers from people willing to camp out around the rebuilt sign to protect it.
Write-thru and upate at 9 p.m.
I didn’t take long .... It’s actually hard to believe anyone who says they love this country would do this
Posted by Dicken Crane on Friday, October 9, 2020