AYR Venu Offers Unique Event Space
Crunching up the gravel road to Lone Oak Farm, there’s a sense of peace; a connection with the fields, rolling hills, and rural roots of our region. This space, only a little way off the beaten path, has everything you need for a one-of-a-kind gathering. Just add your ideas.
When Melissa Oberlander and Teresa Gulleson began planning their dream event venue, they had a very clear idea of the ambiance they wanted to create: a space that was inviting and intimate, where, regardless of the size of the guest list, everyone felt like family. They wanted somewhere with breathtaking views and only a few neighbors to kick up a fuss when the party ran late.
But finding the right location was just part of the challenge the women faced. With established careers in different industries, creating and sustaining an event business would test their business acumen and their relationship.
A Feeling of Home
“In my professional career as a registered nurse I’ve had the opportunity to serve others during significant life events; birth, surgeries, oncology diagnoses, and end of life,” Gulleson said. She dreamed of extending this service into other impactful moments such as weddings, reunions, retreats, and graduations.
Oberlander shared the same dream. With her background in social work, she’d also been there for people on their best and worst days. She was eager to take on the new challenge with Gulleson and create a place where family and friends could come together to celebrate life’s most memorable moments.
The search for the right location took them all over Cass County, but in the end, they found what they were looking for right across the road—Oberlander’s grandparents’ homestead. The farm had always been a gathering place for the neighborhood. “It was a full circle moment,” Oberlander said. “My grandma had people over all the time. Her birthday parties weren’t just immediate family, it was anybody. She kept brownies and cookies in the freezer just in case someone stopped by. She kept lipstick in her kitchen. If anybody knocked on the door, she’d put lipstick on, whip off her apron, and she’d be fully dressed.” Growing up, she’d taken for granted the sense of community and family she’d found around her grandmother’s table. Now there was an opportunity to breathe new life into the property and create a new generation of memories.
“It was a full circle moment,” Oberlander said. “My grandma had people over all the time. Her birthday parties weren’t just immediate family, it was anybody. She kept brownies and cookies in the freezer just in case someone stopped by. She kept lipstick in her kitchen. If anybody knocked on the door, she’d put lipstick on, whip off her apron, and she’d be fully dressed.”
Growing up, she’d taken for granted the sense of community and family she’d found around her grandmother’s table. Now there was an opportunity to breathe new life into the property and create a new generation of memories.
Build it and They Will Come
The old farmhouse is still there—fully updated to serve as a preparation site and accommodation for small parties. But the heart of Lone Oak Farm is the Grand Hall. This state-of-the-art event space offers a neutral, natural open space that is visually interesting with or without decoration. It marries stone, metal, and wood with an abundance of natural light to create a truly unique and inviting atmosphere.
The Grand Hall is surrounded by 40 acres of farmstead including over a mile of maintained walking paths through native grasses and established trees.
Everything is carefully curated by Oberlander and Gulleson to ensure each event exceeds expectations and every guest feels like family.
“We really gain a relationship with the couples and families we serve,” Gulleson said. “I think that is the gift for us and what fills our cup in this industry.”
A Lasting Partnership
Enjoying the view from Sunset Stone or spending the evening celebrating with loved ones in the Grand Hall, it’s easy to believe in fairy tales. Oberlander and Gulleson make it seem effortless. But, as with any long-lasting relationship, the partners admit Lone Oak Farm wouldn’t be what it was without hard work, passion, and surrounding themselves with the right people. While both women have always had an affinity for event planning, neither pursued it as a career path. Instead, they have learned and grown along with the business, cultivating relationships with vendors, employees, and others in the entertainment industry to help bring their dreams to life. Even before they started looking for a location, they spent countless hours with Paul Smith of the North Dakota Small Business Development Centers crafting an intentional business plan that would help them succeed. Most importantly, though, they have learned to work together, trusting each other’s strengths for an efficient working relationship.
“Accepting differences for the greater good has been a learning curve for me,” Gulleson said. “We see things differently, as anybody would.”
For Oberlander, it’s ensuring the lines of communication remain open and clear. “Asking for help has been my biggest lesson,” she said. “Or saying I’m frustrated when I’m frustrated.”
Oberlander’s and Gulleson’s dreams for Lone Oak Farm continue to bloom. In addition to private parties, they’ve added markets and other public events to their calendar to bring the peace and beauty of their space to a wider audience. They look forward to the 2024 wedding season as well as the unique challenges venue management brings.
For more information, please visit their website.
14641 28th Street SE, Ayr, ND 58007