"Get-Away Farm" Becomes Special Event Hot Spot

Got a set of farm buildings that aren't being used? Maybe you can turn them into a special event location like Cedar Lake Farm near St. Louis, Mo. While not everybody has a large population center nearby, the success of Cedar Lake shows the attraction old barns have to many people.

"When Carl Bolm bought it in 2002, he envisioned a retreat for himself and his business and personal friends," explains Michelle Tinker, farm activities director. "After a wedding was held on the farm, he started getting requests to hold other events there and things just spiraled up from there."

In the past 7 years the farm has evolved into a special events site that can hold up to 700 people. The main barn itself can handle a dinner of up to 75. A recently completed 30 by 50-ft. deck on the second level provides socializing space for dancing or more dining. The covered space underneath the deck offers semi-outdoor space, protected from bad weather.

Tinker says a large part of the attraction Cedar Lake holds for guests is the restored look of the barn inside and out. The exterior is the classic red painted barn wood. The inside has been left with open beams and the original barn interior. Where changes have been made, they have been made with authentic barn wood. Pulleys are in place and the hay barn doors can be opened for a view of the surrounding countryside.

A small watering hole was cleaned out and expanded into a small reflecting pond alongside the barn and deck. On the other side of the barn is a three-acre lake complete with paddleboats and a scenic waterfall.

"I've noticed a lot of people fall in love with the relaxed setting," says Tinker. "They feel like they are back on Grandpa's farm, but with an upscale touch."

That touch includes flat screen TVs, radiant heating in the floors, and comfortable couches instead of hay bales.

"Every event is priced differently depending on what's included," says Tinker. "Weddings include space, chairs, tables, etc. Catering is extra. We can do a simple barbeque or a plated dinner."

The farm has grown as business has grown. Currently Cedar Lake Farm is refurbishing another barn with a slightly different style. Tinker says the goal is to increase daytime business. Currently there is no double booking of the site, another attractive aspect to many guests.

"People feel like it's really theirs for the day," says Tinker.