The Great Outdoors of Flyover Country

Photocredit: Shelby Chante Photography

Between Barns and Fields: A Unique Meeting Space
By Bill Clevlen 

 

One of the great things about life in Missouri is that you’re never too far away from a big city, or from remote, peaceful, country living.  Many of those rural properties we roll by along the county roads include a barn. The barn has always been a fixture of the farm and a symbol of rural America. These days, more and more of us city dwellers are using those barns to get away, and conduct business with at least a bit of “digital detox”.  

“Honestly, It’s just so great to see people who aren’t used to being in the country, spending time in the fresh air and having fun” says Lauren Hughes, owner of Hope Springs Farm in Hartsville.  Her property, just east of Springfield, includes 175 acres of space that can be used for pretty much anything the clients can come up with.  In addition to their beautiful barn, which includes a lower level lounge and loft for dinners or presentations, the amount of outdoor space makes this a special place for outings.  Hughes says “people have been very creative with the ideas they come up with and we love working with the different groups to make it happen.”  One group recently requested skeet shooting, while another wanted a 5K racing course. 

One of their regular clients is Coltrane Systems of St. Louis. The security systems company came up with an idea Lauren had never seen before – a GPS scavenger hunt/challenge course.  Owner Rick Coltrane booked Hope Springs for a corporate getaway with 50 employees and decided to build a two mile obstacle course using an app called Turf Hunter.  They split into two teams, and worked their way around the property, stopping at various posts where the challenge may include throwing a hatchet at balloons or doing a 3-D puzzle.  “It’s really great to see the employees work together on strategy and getting to know each other outside of the office in a relaxed setting like this” says Mr. Coltrane.   “We do this every year and it’s something everyone looks forward to.”   They choose January, their slowest month to have their annual gathering.  Hope Springs helps with a caterer and the group enjoys a nice steak dinner and drinks inside the barn. 

Sara Howell of Heritage Ranch in Sedalia keeps mostly busy these days with weddings.  But, she’d love to see more group retreats or corporate outings take advantage of her property.  “People like these settings because it’s quiet, with lots of space” says Howell.  Recently, they’ve hosted the Relay For Life organization and the Bethel Assembly, a local church for an annual ladies retreat.  For the last three years, the group has used the property for a retreat which organizer Angie Gray calls “very special”.  Previously, they held their outing at other small venues in town but their move to the ranch and use of Howell’s barn changed the vibe of their outings – for the better.  

In the town of Fayette, Jamie Bryant and her family have owned Blue Bell Farm for seven generations.  Their barn is just four years old, but designed to look as though it’s been there forever.  “We try to keep it a blank slate” says Bryant, who jokes that not everyone wants or likes the same decor.  Instead, they let their clients dictate how the barn is going to look for their event.  The barn has both A/C and heat, as well as a wood burning fireplace. The added benefit of being a working farm means that food is fresh and locally sourced by the Bryant family or other local farmers.  Groups like Veterans United out of Columbia that have recently rented the property, usually come up with their own activities.  If they decide to learn about life on the farm, Mrs. Bryant says, “They can always help us harvest our crops – which actually happens a lot and people really enjoy it”. 

Photo credit: Sara Tafoya Photography 

While many properties have a barn for meetings or events, they aren’t always the main fixture of event space.  For example, Cedar Creek in New Haven offers what feels like an entire small town that can be used for corporate outings, parties, or networking.   The barn (which is 87′ x 54′) is just one part of it.  Bob Vatterott manages the property and says corporate business is a main focus during the week.  “We recently had an automotive dealership group out here, about 1,000 people in total that used Cedar Creek for their gathering.” he said.  

While the barn can seat 400 people theater style for a presentation – there are many other options for meeting space including an outdoor theater, and designated meeting rooms – all with A/V setup included. Even though the property includes extra options like golf or swimming, it still maintains the getaway feel that makes many of these places so popular. There are also 125 rooms available for overnight accommodations.

Vivian Benedict of the Missouri Association of Realtors is a fan.  She says, “The food is incredible, and we love the atmosphere of the dining room.  But the best thing about Cedar Creek is the out-of-the way location, the serenity that the atmosphere provides, and the customer service.”  

 

HERITAGE RANCH 

SEDALIA, MO 

HERITAGERANCHMO.COM

913-302-2007

Built in 2015, the barn is an authentic looking space with room for 350 guests. There are 40 rustic barn wood tables, 350 wood folding chairs. and access to a refrigerator, freezer, and a huge wooden bar.  For decorating, the venue offers a building full of decor items available to rent. (Full catalog on their website).  Plenty of picturesque settings with shade for guests. To maintain an authentic barn feel – there is no A/C or heating.  For cooler days, patio heaters are used.

 

STORYBOOK BARN 

ROGERSVILLE, MO 

STORYBOOKBARNMO.COM

417-414-0825

This barn was built during the Civil War era and now serves as a popular venue for events in the Ozarks.  For conferences, meetings, picnics, or team building retreats, there are indoor and outdoor spaces.  Lots of on-site parking available.  The venue can accommodate up to 300 guests standing, 220 for auditorium seating and 150 for tables and chairs.  It’s located just 15 minutes from downtown Springfield. 

 

BLUE BELL FARM

FAYETTE, MO 

BLUEBELLFARM.ORG

660-888-6011

This long time family-owned property’s barn has an elegant design with whitewashed walls and a bar made with reclaimed wood.  The farm also has a scenic veranda and newly-built, covered deck that can be used in warmer months.  The barn, located 25 minutes from downtown Columbia, is available Monday-Thursday for corporate events and can accommodate up to 150 guests.   

 

CEDAR LAKE CELLARS

WRIGHT CITY, MO 

CEDARLAKECELLARS.COM

636-745-9500

“The Big Red Barn” is less than an hour’s drive from the Metro St. Louis area.  The 370-acre property is perfect for breakout sessions or team building activities.  Each event is customized to fit your needs.  All packages include tables and chairs in the configuration of your choice, note pads, pens, and unlimited non-alcoholic beverages.  The barn can hold up to 250 guests.

 

HOPE SPRINGS FARM VENUE

HARTVILLE, MO

HOPESPRINGSVENUE.COM

417-300-4068

This authentic 1900’s rustic barn has two unique spaces.  An upstairs loft that can hold up to 85 people, and a downstairs “barn lounge”. Guests have the opportunity to go hiking on the 175-acre property, and check out scenic bluffs, springs, and even two small caves.  For retreats, you’ll have access to a cottage, fire pits, courtyard, as well as your choice of activities and meals. A golfing range can also be set up by request.

 

TOBACCO BARN FARM 

HOLT MO 

TOBACCOBARNFARM.COM

816-506-6101

With 3,000 square feet of space, the restored century-old barn can be used for a variety of purposes.  Power for A/V is available both an outdoor arbor and inside the barn.  Fire pit with seating, prep kitchen, 100 acres of outdoor space, and paved parking also available.  Tables and chairs can accommodate up to 200 people in barn.  A covered patio area includes tables, chairs, bistro lights, and mobile bar.   

 

FRESH AIR FARM 

KANSAS CITY, MO

FRESHAIRFARM.COM

816-330-3344

The restored 100 year old barn, set on 67 acres near Kansas City, is a great venue for team building, retreats or other special occasions. The rolling hills make a relaxing backdrop and a hand-crafted wood and iron bridge span a three acre, spring-fed pond.  Guests can access an outdoor bar and quaint lounge area across a custom courtyard.  A 1961 Airstream and two beautiful vintage trucks add to the special countryside atmosphere. 

 

 

CEDAR CREEK 

NEW HAVEN

CEDARCREEKCENTER.COM

(855) 778-7222  

This secluded property in New Haven includes an 87′ x 54′ barn for meeting space that can hold up to 400 guests theater style.  Other modern meeting rooms and spaces include A/V capabilities and complimentary wireless internet.  A golf course, swimming pool, nature trails, and fine dining options make it a popular destination for corporate retreats.  Their website is extremely detailed with photos and an abundance of options. 


THOMPSON BARN
LENEXA, KS
LENEXA.COM
(913) 477-7100

Beautifully rustic, yet conveniently modern, Thompson Barn is a distinctive event space in suburban Kansas City. This brick barn’s historical character was preserved through its transformation into a flexible venue for corporate events, business meetings, parties, weddings and receptions. Owned and operated by the City of Lenexa, Kansas.

 

About the author

Joe Clote

Joseph W. Clote is owner of Publishing Concepts, LLC a communications and marketing firm based in Saint Louis, Missouri. Mr. Clote is Group Publisher of MeetMed™ and Missouri Meetings & Events™ (MM&E) magazine, a quarterly publication read by thousands of meeting and event professionals, and producer of the St. Louis and Kansas City trade shows under the MM&E name. Mr. Clote has extensive sales and marketing expertise in the travel, tourism, fine art, insurance, and software development industries.