"If You Build It, They Will Come"

You know the saying “If you build it, they will come.”? Well, we didn’t quite think that would be the case when we built what is known as the WoodsEdge Event Barn.

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You see, our Event Barn wasn’t always home to weddings – it was re-purposed for them.  When Brent’s parents, Fred & Linda, purchased WoodsEdge Farm, the farm house and one barn, both dating back to the 1700s were the only two structures standing. There were no livestock barns or fences – nothing, nada, zilch.  Over the years the landscape of the farm has been specifically curated with our fiber-producing livestock and agritourism in mind.

Fred would host shearing days on the farm where visitors would come and watch the annual harvest of the herds’ fleece. And Linda would host yarn spinning and dyeing workshops and seminars for enthusiasts from across the country and abroad. Events like those were and still are a staple around WoodsEdge and give people the opportunity to enjoy a day in the country!

After the creation of our auction and event production company (you can read more about that blog here) we began to host alpaca and llama sales twice a year at WoodsEdge. For many years, we would take over the livestock pastures and hold auctions in massive, bright white, high-peaked tents that even the most well-traveled circus Ring Master would be envious of.

After hosting the first alpaca auction in Atlantic City, we thought WoodsEdge would be a great location for our annual event.

After hosting the first alpaca auction in Atlantic City, we thought WoodsEdge would be a great location for our annual event.

Events in tents at WoodsEdge as the llamas look on.

Events in tents at WoodsEdge as the llamas look on.

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While there is a thrill about creating an event from the ground up, it requires a ton of planning, installation and logistics – and lets be frank - money. We would bring in everything from generators to restroom trailers and lighting to staging. So, after a few years we decide to once again improve upon the infrastructure of the farm and put up a large arena that would be multi-purpose. One that would provide us with the flexibility of using it for livestock or agristousim.

Plans were drawn up and construction started in late fall of 2005. With a completion deadline of spring 2006 for our Sixth Annual Spring Fling Alpaca Auction nothing could slow us down. Brent & I worked non-stop alongside the crews from Morton Buildings and we’re pretty sure that we drove them crazy throughout the entire process.   

Yup -that Brent and I looking on as the trusses were being off loaded.

Yup -that Brent and I looking on as the trusses were being off loaded.

That winter proved to be a harsh one and snow storm after snow storm - the progress kept going. Excavating - check, sticks up (or walls) - check, crane up the driveway - check, trusses installed- check. That barn went up like a well oiled machine. In May of 2006, with construction and landscaping feverishly being done right down to when guests were arriving, we hosted our first event in the barn.  

Seminars were a staple of livestock events hosted at WoodsEdge.

Seminars were a staple of livestock events hosted at WoodsEdge.

After a few years of hosting alpaca and llama auctions – the direction shifted away from the sales, but our love for agritourism never stopped. A few times a year we would knock off the cobwebs and brush off the dirt to host seminars and events like Thanksgiving on the Farm, Barn Dances, Kids Day, and Fiber Fest to name a few (check out our farm website to learn more about the events coming to WoodsEdge).

One day, a loyal customer came in to our farm store (which is located in the front of the Event Barn). We got to chatting and she mentioned that her daughter was planning for her wedding on their family farm. But it was up for sale and they were afraid that it would be sold by her wedding date. I could see the wheels turning as she asked if she could have a look around. My knee-jerk reaction was “Umm.…no – the barn is a mess!”.  Assuring me that she understood that - it is after all - a barn, I reluctantly we gave her the 50 cent tour. I just remember hearing “This is perfect!” and the rest is history.

Who knows what this barn would have been or could be used for – more livestock housing (Brent would tar and feather me if I added more to four leggeds to the “family”), storage of farm equipment (and I might him if he buys yet another thing with a motor), but we know that right now it’s being put to a use that we had never dreamt about. A use that allows people the opportunity to create life-long memories.

A few years ago someone said to us that having weddings or events on the farm in a barn was trendy and that it was a fad; which scared the life out of me because you know what Karl Lagerfeld said about being trendy…(I’ll let you look that quote up). It’s been 7 years now and the I Dos keep coming. The family reunions, the birthday parties, the baby showers, the corporate picnic keep coming. We believe that when trends stick around they become traditions. And there is something special and sacred about keeping with tradition.

Inviting people out to the farm is about building community; teaching life lessons; creating experiences; sharing what us farmers work so hard to preserve. There are days when we get numerous phone calls and emails – people asking to visit or host an event – no doubt to take a deep breath and enjoy the serenity and peacefulness that the country fresh air and joyfulness that our animals offer. And to eat a piece or two of wedding cake.

Amy SerridgeComment