Can you believe we’ve been here four years already? Yep, December 31st was our four year anniversary of owning the Mad River Barn. What a tremendous blessing it has been. We are so grateful for the friends that we’ve made and for the support shown to us by the community and our customers.
On that note, we’re excited to take this opportunity to update everyone on our latest project: The Mad River Barn Wedding & Event Pavilion. Over the past four years, we learned that in order to survive in the Mad River Valley cyclical economy, you have to diversify. For us, the natural path forward was hosting weddings on the weekends in the warmer months. Weddings ensure our Inn rooms are occupied, our kitchen crew can stay busy, and we can keep our beloved staff employed year round.
Over the past couple of summers, we did have the opportunity to host several weddings in tents on the Upper Landing (the flat grassy area behind the Mad River Barn). Through this experience, we learned that tented weddings pose a lot of challenges… there is a tremendous amount of labor involved in setting up the tents each weekend, and that labor gets passed onto the wedding couple in the form of pretty expensive tent rental fees. The wedding couple also has to rent all the furnishings (tables, chairs, plates, glasses and flatware)… adding to the expense. We provided the food service, but that was also a challenge – we cooked all the food in our restaurant kitchen and then transported it up to the tent for service. After two summers of this, we were exhausted! So we decided to invest in some proper infrastructure. While surfing Pinterest, we found the perfect inspiration: a gorgeous post & beam pavilion:
Our pavilion will look very similar to this – it will be a bit bigger (40’ x 100’) and will include a commercial kitchen and men’s and women’s bathrooms. To help manage noise, we modified the design to add a solid wood wall on the fireplace end and an acoustic glass wall on the 80’ length facing Route 17. The opposite 80’ length will have motorized roll down clear vinyl panels designed for weather protection for guests. Heaters in the ceiling ensure we can keep guests warm, even on chilly fall nights.
After contacting several post & beam construction companies, we found one in Connecticut that we really liked: The Barn Yard & Great Country Garages. Why did we like them? The people! It’s a multi-generational family run business and we just loved the people. And after looking through their portfolio, it was clear they do really beautiful work. We showed them the picture of our inspiration, and the project took off from there!
Construction began in May with the well drilling process. We hired Chevalier Well Drilling, and after drilling only about 225 feet, our well was producing 25 gallons per minute (an excellent supply!). We were relieved and grateful for that, as lack of water can kill a project faster than anything. After we drilled the well, we were ready to commence with filing for our local and state building permits.
We sailed through the local permitting process – the Fayston Development Review Board were thorough, but fair. They drafted a permit with reasonable limitations that ensured protections for our neighbors. The Act 250 permit took a bit longer to conclude, ultimately finalizing late November. We started site work the very next day. Kingsbury Construction arrived with their earth moving equipment and began prepping the foundation, expanding our septic field, and trenching water and gas lines. Alliance Mechanical installed the under-slab plumbing. We started pouring the foundation and kitchen slab early December, and finished the week after Christmas.
Great Country Garages arrived onsite January 16th to “raise” the pavilion. It is truly a raising in every sense of the word. They brought 11 guys to help including a crew of Amish craftsman who are exceptionally skilled in this sort of work. After the first week, the side posts were up and the trusses were assembled and ready to be put in place.
Next week, they pavilion crew will be back with a crane to set the trusses onto the posts, and then to frame out the rest of the pavilion. The raising will be complete by next Friday. Following that, the mason will begin work on the fireplace and we’ll proceed with electrical, plumbing, and finish carpentry. In the spring, we’ll pour the main pavilion slab. Then, onto the finish landscaping. Our schedule calls for completion by end of April so that we can be ready for the wedding season!
Watch the blog for future posts for continued updates, and check out the construction pictures below!
Andrew & Heather