Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Farm to Venue Transition Adds to Kentucky Agritourism Industry

As wedding season shifts into high gear, some Kentucky farms are on the list of venues where couples can take their vows.  It’s one way farmers across the nation have been diversifying in recent years to bring in revenue. 

At one family farm in Kentucky, on any given day, the activity can run from corporate events to planning a wedding to taking care of the cows.                

The black Angus cows are grazing across the gently rolling hillsides at Charlie Mosley’s 160-acre farm in Warren County.

“Cows and calves and everything, there’s about 60 mamas here, and the rest of them are babies and bulls. They’re beef cattle, yeah, we sell ‘em when we wean ‘em,” says Charlie Mosley.

Mosley is 73 years old and farming in Warren County got into his bones long ago.

“Yeah, I grew up on a farm when I was a little boy, yeah, in Alvaton. Alvaton, in the Greenhill area, up in there.”

But Mosley didn’t spend his life farming. He started M&L Electrical with a partner in 1975 and the company has grown to more than 300 employees.

Mosley’s son, Chris Mosley, is lead corporate training for M&L Electrical employees.

Everybody in this company is a leader and makes a huge impact on the success of this company…,” says Chris Mosley.

The M&L Electrical employees have come in from several states to hold their meeting in the renovated barn at Highland Stables. 

This upscale barn once had stalls for 50 horses. It’s one example of the way some farmers across the U.S. have been creating special events venues to help tide them over during lean years.  

Charlie Mosley says it was his daughter-in-law Angie who had the vision for the transformation.

“The barn just sat here empty ‘til Angie came up with the idea of doing this,” says Mosley, who’s been a bit surprised at the popularity of the special events venue.

“Well, it’s different for me. I never dreamed that many people wanted to get in a barn, like they do, you know,so…,” he says.

Angie Mosley says the transformation began about two years ago.

“We’re Kentucky. This is horse country. And I want people when they walk in this barn, I want them to feel like they’re right in the midst of horse country,” she says.  “So I try to keep it authentic, but we have torn out stalls for bar areas and then I actually redid a tack room and made it into the bridal lounge.”

One of the brides planning to use Highland Stables for her wedding is Polly Cowan. She’s from Logan County and a senior at Western Kentucky University. Cowan looks over the farm to see where she wants to have her outdoor wedding ceremony.

“Actually on the other side of that fence over there, where the cows are, probably there on that hillside….yes…,” says Cowan.

The cows are not on the guest list.

“Yeah, they’ll probably be moved for the actual ceremony, so…we might hear a moo

every now and then….but…,” she says.

A spokesperson for the Association of Bridal Consultants says farm events are a favorite choice for people who have rural roots. Farm venues are also popular for city dwellers who want to experience the rustic elegance of barn events.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles was recently in Bowling Green for a meeting of a farm organization. Quarles says the farm-to-venue transition is a valuable part of the state’s growing agritourism industry.

“Kentucky agriculture is a source of pride for most Kentuckians, even those who don’t have a direct farm connection, so it’s not surprising to me to see old tobacco barns or refurbished wood or venues being used for social events such as weddings,” says Quarles.

Angie Mosley uses websites, social media and word-of-mouth to keep the revenue coming in through the seasons.

“You know whether it be a charity event, we host a lot of weddings, we do corporate trainings, family reunions, proms. And we also host Gypsy Moon marketplace,” she says.

As it moves into its second year as a special events venue, Highland Stables is booked for about 20 weddings, as well as about 20 other events.

Seventy-three-year-old Charlie Mosley gazes over the rolling hillsides dotted with Black Angus. He says no matter how successful the business is, one thing is sure.

“I’ll die with it and my grandsons, they love it, so I guess it will go down into the family. When I’m gone, they can do what they want to with it, but it won’t be sold while I’m alive,” he says.

Highland Stables is expanding as a venue for special events, but for Charlie Mosley, that business is still, most of all, a family farm.