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Wedding and concert venue struggles through COVID-19 cancellations

Kathy Koehn
Spring music concerts and wedding events have all been postponed due to coronavirus concerns at The Welch Farm, near Macksville. Loss of revenue from canceled events will be hard for owners to recoup.

Statewide directives asking for large public gatherings to cancel activities due to Covid-19 has had an enormous economic effect on many small businesses, including a rural Stafford County venue, The Welch Farm. Located west of Macksville, Kansas,

Welch Farm is a wedding and event venue which is available to lease for weddings and family events. The farm also hosts concerts, air bnb guests, guided hunts and has both catering and liquor licenses.

In 2019, Welch Farm hosted families from 35 states and 7 foreign countries including Mexico, China, France, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and The United Kingdom.

The visionaries behind the rustic and re-purposed venue, Kevin and Michell Welch and their daughter, Megan Schnoebelen, have become well known in recent years for their hospitality, catering events both on and off the farm, their homemade BBQ sauce, which is

Kevin’s mother secret recipe and the overall fun and relaxing atmosphere that they have created from a once abandoned farmstead.

“However, due to Covid-19, The Welch Farm has complied with state-wide social distancing requests and postponed all events both on and off the farm through the end of April,” Michell Welch said. “The count is currently at 9 events that have been postponed.”

The Welch Farm was scheduled to kick off their seasonal venue events on March 28, 2020, by hosting the wedding of Larned couple, Kayla Reisner and Mathew Thompson.

Mat and Kayla share a unique coincidence in that they both were born on March 28. The couple wanted to make March 28th their wedding day as well. Although, their large wedding and reception did not take place on March 28 due to Covid-19, the couple did come to the farm on their wedding day with their two children, the bride’s parents, the matron of honor (brides sister), the groom’s best man (brides brother in law) and the grooms sister. These family members were the only attendees for the couple’s special day. Kevin Welch officiated the very short service and no other guests were present. The Thompson’s reception has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 12, 2020, when hopefully, all their friends and family can safely attend their celebration.

May 2020 events remain uncertain at this time and planned May 2nd bride, Jenna Bland of Pratt, has rescheduled for later in the summer.”

The Welch Farm also has had a June 5 “Welcome to Summer” concert scheduled for some time. In fact, they had just worked out the details when the shutdown happened. The Josh Abbott Band is the featured guest and hopefully things will have returned to normal by that time. However, The Welch Farm will follow all state guidelines concerning social distancing recommendations and are hoping if Covid19 is not under control by that date, that the band will work with them for an alternate date when it is safe for people to once again socialize in large crowds.

Logan Mize was the first concert at The Welch Farm, and it was such a huge hit for this rural venue, that many requests have been made to the Welch’s to continue this type of event.

For the Welch family, 2019 was a busy year at the Farm. The first wedding of the season was April 20, Easter weekend, with the marriage of Taylor Tittle and Gabriel Bronkhorst. The Welch Farm was then reserved every weekend from Easter to October 26, 2019 with the exception of only a few open dates.

The Welch Farm is currently a non-climate controlled, seasonal venue with a large pavilion, plenty of shade and lots of rustic charm.

“We just started the dirt work to begin renovations of the back barn which will have a conference space to host corporate meetings, group hunter get togethers, a porch for VIP ticket holders to concert events and a spa similar to Rock Haven south of Hays,” Michelle Welch said.

The Welch Farm does have a few openings available for summer and a few in September and October of 2020, they do however, already have events scheduled for 2021.

For weddings and events that were forced to cancel due to social distancing and numbers of people allowed to gather at one time, Welch offered brides and event coordinators any available open date to reschedule their special event. There is no rescheduling fee. No additional charges. No extra anything.

“If your special day was canceled due to Covid-19, you have first choice at any future available date and we will also help anyone who has booked with other venues who are not as fortunate with options available for alternate dates,” Welch said. “Public event cancellations are out of our hands and out of the hands of our guests. We do, however, have clients sign a contract when reserving a date at The Welch Farm, and we do require that they purchase event insurance. No one has ever had to use their insurance. We require this for several reasons including liability, but you never know about severe weather such as tornadoes and such and weddings are expensive.”

Welch said they definitely wanted to do everything possible as people and as a business to make this time of coronavirus pandemic less stressful on all parties.

While 2020 may not be going as expected for The Welch Farm, they aren’t ready to stop moving forward anytime soon.

“We are available to resume outside catering starting May 1,”Welch said.

Although The Welch Farm has both food and beverage licenses, they are not available to the public to stop in anytime. It is a private venue available to lease for special occasions. However, The Welch Farm is observing the recommendations set forth by the governor of Kansas and no events will be hosted through the April 30 guidelines. Dates beyond April 30 could be affected as well.