When you step onto the property at Rolling Ridge Wedding and Events Center the first thing you’ll notice is the rustic charm and elegance of the grounds. We’re proud of the outcome and the Rolling Ridge our customers and guests see now, but it wasn’t always what it is, and it certainly wasn’t an easy process.
In 2001, Randy Schmitz purchased an old hobby farm near the city of St. Joseph, Mn. The property was overwhelmed with rundown buildings, overgrown trees, and buckthorn bushes. Beyond the rubble was a big red barn and an old brick house. The view of the two, though in ruins, sparked an idea. That idea sparked a business venture and the passion to create a beautiful space.
September 2001 became the year the Rennie Farm would begin its journey to become an award winning wedding & event center. It took many hours of sweat equity and years of thoughtful planning to imagine. It all started with a renovation of the Brick Farm House as it became home to The Design Studio and Scenic Specialties Landscape Co. Soon other buildings would follow suit. The machine shed became a retail store and other yard areas became a garden center before the slate was virtually wiped clean in 2015.
One event, the inaugural event in the newly restored Historic Barn. And so it began, the cow stanchions and crusty concrete floors were replaced with paving stones that mimicked wood slabs. A new floor was installed and the entire barn was cleaned top to bottom. A new courtyard patio was installed to provide an accessible entrance and a portable restroom trailer was incorporated to provide restrooms with running water. The barn looked amazing and it appeared to be ready for its first event. It was in the mid fall season and the weather was perfect- who could complain about the sunny 70 degree temperature? Two days later was event day and we were ready. We were exhausted from our yearlong project to get the barn ready. We cleaned, painted, mowed the lawn and we THOUGHT we were in business.
We thought wrong. The clouds came, the winds began to howl and the temperature dipped to single digits that night. We prayed for a miracle- but it didn’t happen. 4 hours before the event was to begin, the organizers nearly decided to move the event to another location. We were determined to do everything we could to host this event. Especially after the amount of time and money we had spent to prepare for this event. We found ourselves stuffing black plastic bags in the cracks of the barn to keep the wind out and hold the heat inside. We constructed a tent to block the wind from the large open doorways.
It was at this event I learned that even though I thought I did things right- things were far from it. I don’t give up easily- but I almost threw in the towel. I was determined to make sure this didn’t happen again. I met with a builder to find out what could be done to improve my barn. I didn’t realize that since my barn was built for animals and not people- it would need to be structurally reengineered and built according to code. I was doing things illegally without realizing it. I needed a public occupancy permit… which meant the thousands of dollars spent on planning and remodeling the barn so far, would require a complete overhaul. New beams, electric, plumbing, reinforcements needed to be done before I could open for business and before I could insure my building properly. Had something more gone wrong such as fire- people could have died and I could have lost everything I worked my entire life for.
Rolling Ridge could have been a disaster… but it became a dream come true. The hard work and perseverance earned us the right to be known as one of the Midwest’s safest and unique wedding venues. Unlike many other barn venue owners who continue to operate under the radar… it only took me one event to realize I wasn’t willing to risk my livelihood or the lives of others to live out my dream.