Roehl family flips barn into event venue

Amber Burke
Wisconsin State Farmer

A moment of disappointment turned out to have a silver lining for the Roehl family.

"In June of 2017, our daughter went into Loyal to book the venue for her wedding, and it was not available for the day she had her heart set on," said Kim Fricke-Roehl.

Not wanting to choose a new date, Kim asked her husband Doug if the barn on his home farm might be an option as a wedding site, knowing in advance it would take a lot of cleaning and restoration.

Kim and Doug Roehl stand outside the Rustic Occasions event barn.

With some hesitation, he agreed, but they also had to convince Doug's parents, Erlin and Bonnie Roehl, who currently live on the property. Erlin purchased the farm in 1968, and although "the barn was empty except for some loose hay and round bales, it would take a tremendous amount of time and effort to prepare it for hosting a wedding," Doug said.

From left to right: Colten, Sabrina, Brynlee, Maverick, Kim, Doug, Bonnie and Erlin Roehl

After getting Erlin and Bonnie's blessing to proceed with the project, the entire family got to work cleaning out the barn on July 3, 2017. Some Amish neighbors brought in their horses and wagons and hauled away the majority of the hay.

Next, Roel family members blew out all of the extra loose hay and sawdust and proceeded to pressure-wash the floor multiple times. After it was completely clean, they repaired the floor in areas that were uneven and installed a new floor over the top to ensure it was smooth.

Doug Roehl installs new boards over the old flooring for a smooth surface.

According to Doug and Kim, the transformation took over a year of working almost every night and weekend in order to get it completely clean, restored and decorated for their daughter's wedding in September 2018.

Since that time, they have hosted weddings, graduation and anniversary parties, proms and even church services. They kept some of the old farm tools and equipment they found while cleaning out the barn and have them on display throughout the building and the rest of the property.

"It's been really cool to showcase the barn to area residents and farmers. They admire the structure of the building and the antique decorations and it brings back memories of when they were young growing up on their own farms," Kim added.

The barn can accommodate up to 225 guests for a sit-down meal. The rural venue is open from May through October. Customers bring in their own food and beverages, but they do offer tables, chairs, access to bathrooms and a bar for serving. An added bonus is the renovated milk house, which serves as a bridal suite for bridal parties to prepare for their events.

Currently, 15 events are scheduled for the remainder of this year and the family says they are already are booking into 2023. "We are learning to give ourselves a break and plan to take at least one weekend off per month next year," Kim said. "We really enjoy hosting these events and we don't want to get burned out."

Farm Technology Days

Over a year ago, Dennis Roehl asked Doug and Kim if they would be willing to participate in the 2022 Farm Technology Days. "Dennis said I think it would be a great opportunity to show other people how you have renovated the place and provide ideas as to what people can do with barns on their own property," Kim said.  

The Rustic Occasions event barn will host several activities during Farm Technology Days and will be one of the “stops” on the farm tour. Offerings will include a variety of food demonstrations and tastings, country music and line dancing demonstrations, as well as soap-making and live music and dance performances. In addition, lunch will be served on Wednesday and Thursday, July 13 and 14.

"It is really an honor to be a part of Farm Technology Days and we are looking forward to it," Kim said. "We hope the weather is nice and we have a great turnout so people can come see what we have done with the place. "

Inside the Rustic Occasions event barn
The Rustic Occasions sign welcomes guess at the end of the driveway.