Former barn renovated into ceremony hall
When Jennie and Kenny Ellis purchased their new home in north Plant City, little did they know that the adjacent barn on their property would become a popular hub for the public to use for celebration.
The couple moved to the quiet, rustic farmland about a year and a half ago. It was a drastic change from the busy city life they previously lived in Lakeland.
Upon the acres of land, was an eight-stall horse barn that was left unoccupied. While others may have seen it as an opportune way to house more horses, they envisioned the potential for it to be something more.
That concept would eventually become Bethany Oaks Farm – a venue to host special occasions, such as birthdays, weddings, or anniversaries.
“I think the original thought was to repurpose it and use it for events and parties for us and our friends. Just a place for family events,” Kenny said.
The individual stalls that once divided the barn were dismantled to create an open space and new floors had to be built.
“We basically took all the interior stall wood and bars out and then had to pour concrete down the whole side,” Kenny said.
There are two open entryways on either end of the venue with open, but decorated windows along both sides of the walls. With a flatscreen TV perched above it, one entryway has a stage where live performances can take place. Eight round tables surrounded with chairs also add to a welcoming and social atmosphere. Several fans were installed along the ceiling as well as overhead lights and a restroom has been built near one of the entrances.
They set up antiques and crafts, purchasing some things from yard sales.
“I just pick things up and redo them and put them in here,” Jennie said.
Friends also added to the decor by contributing different items and furnishings. The inside is decorated with mirrors, wooden tables, candles, a windmill, a birdhouse, as well as miniature statues of cherubs and owls.
There are also old-fashioned items that are nostalgic such as a watering can for flowers, a small refrigerator, a suitcase, typewriter, books, and a small portable fan.
After a while, they came up with the idea of making it inclusive to the public as rented space.
“It’s fun to be able to offer that to people,” Jennie said. “We thought it was a cool idea that this could be something that we would just have for the community.”
It has been operational for a year now.
This past holiday season, the staff at Robinson Elementary School, and their families, held a Christmas party there.
Birthday parties and fun events for non-profit organizations venue have also been hosted at the.
The open field on the farmland also is a benefit as there is sufficient space for parking and room for kids to play and enjoy nature.
Jennie and Kenny also have their own goats and much wildlife can be observed from the field.
While the couple wants the occupants to set up the venue as they see fit, there are also guidelines to follow.
“We have contracts,” Jennie said. “We do allow alcohol, but you have to have a bartender that we approve of, who is the only one who can serve, so that there’s accountability. So, we have a lot of checks and balances put in place for everyone’s sake.”
There have been events where there weren’t enough accommodations due to overcrowding. As a result, Jennie and Kenny have to let the event planners know ahead of time that there is a certain capacity that can’t be exceeded.
The couple also takes advantage of the venue as they have their own weekly get-togethers.
Kenny is a pastor and every Sunday church members congregate under the former barn for services.
There is one event planned that Jennie especially is looking forward to.
She counsels young ladies, motivating them to overcome current or past issues they may be facing and helping them grow as individuals.
In April, she plans on holding a function where these young women will speak before an audience about their struggles and the potential of women.
In fact, Jennie is a photographer who takes photos of those she counsels.
She will have large portraits of them on display during the event.
As more occasions take place, Jennie and Kenny look forward to having many pleasant memories occur in the Bethany Oaks Farm for all those who enter.
For any information or to book a date, email BethanyOaksInfo@gmail.com or by calling Jennie Ellis at (863) 860-5084.