Agricultural heritage gets modern with farm weddings and events
Bryan and Tonya Keller began cattle farming in Dickson County in 1997. But after 10 years of “barely scraping byâ€ and a drought in 2007 the couple realized they needed to try something else to create revenue on their family farm, Bryan Keller says. After attending an agritourism conference in 2008, the Kellers came home, sold all their cattle and dove head-first into agritourism, opening their farm to the public as a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and corn maze and a site for organized campouts and farm weddings.
“Since then, we have had an increased profit each year,â€ Keller says. “Not only that, it is something we can do to give back to the community by creating family-friendly activities that educate the public on farm life, as well as allow families to create lasting memories with their children.”
With its rich agricultural heritage and idyllic pastoral setting, Dickson County is an ideal location for authentic farm events. And a number of local farms are getting in on the action and providing locals and visitors with unique, farm-based experiences.
“The reason this business is working so well, is that it creates an alternative to the typical gathering in a corporate or church setting, for people to relax, enjoy themselves, take some incredible pictures to capture those memories, and it promotes our rural heritage,â€ Keller says. “I love the fact that it is assisting farmers to hang on to their farms, with big businesses taking over so much of the crop-growing and beef cattle industry and the little farmer can’t compete. It is offering him an alternative to produce revenue on the farm in creative and fun ways.”
Agricultural heritage has long been an important part of Dickson County’s way of life. For instance, local events such as the Dickson County Farm Tour and the Dickson Farm, Home & Garden Show always draw a crowd, and every year the Dickson County Chamber of Commerce presents the Heritage Farm of the Year award.
But with more landowners making their land and facilities available to the public, farms are becoming an even greater part of everyday life and special activities. For instance, Keller’s farm, Keller’s Corny Country, has hosted school field trips, weddings and corporate events, which include catering and entertainment, for up to 1,000 employees and their families. In January 2013, the farm hosted the Tennessee Agritourism Association Bus Tour, including a catered meal inside the barn.
Nearby, the Cactus Creek Barn can be rented for various events, including weddings, receptions, private parties, concerts and songwriter rounds, says owner Connie Urbach.
“We had our first wedding on Sept 27, 2014,â€ she says. “Since then, we have had two more weddings, a reception and a birthday party. We have two more weddings this month, and are booking up for next year and with inquiries for 2016.”
Farms to Visit
Dickson County is home to more than two dozen century farms, active farms that have been under single-family ownership for at least 100 years. Some of those farms are now open to the public, such as Miller Century Farm in Charlotte, which hosts weddings, tours, photo sessions, family reunions, and educational events.
Other local farms open to the public include Cajun Lake Lodge in Burns, which hosts weddings, parties and retreats, as well as Keller’s Corny Country and Cactus Creek Barn, both in Dickson.
“Dickson County is perfectly positioned to act as a welcome escape from the fast pace of the city,â€ Urbach says. “[This is] a place where people can connect with nature, learn about farming, and purchase produce and meats direct from the farmer.”
Dickson County is perfectly positioned to act as a welcome escape from the fast pace of the city.