The milkers have been replaced by beer taps. The stable is now lit by the soft glow of candles. The loft reverberates with the sound of dancing.
It’s called Clinton Hills, appropriately named for its geographic location and elevation, and is a project by former Summerside Western Capitals owners Maribeth and George Roberts.
The Roberts originally purchased the property in 2003 for its commanding view of the Southwest River on one side of the hill on which the land sits. They intended to flip the scenic pasture section into cottage lots and sell off the dairy barn, workshop and homestead.
However, they were met with a sluggish market and couldn’t sell the properties in a timely manner.
Stuck with a farm and no intentions of filling it with cattle, the Roberts got creative.
They decided to fill their barn with people.
In 2011 they started renovating the dairy, originally built in 1959, into an event space.
“We evicted the raccoons,” said Maribeth.
They spent a year turning the old hayloft into a multi-tiered banquet hall, retaining the esthetic and old, warn, wood. They’ve since added a full kitchen, bar, dinning room, fire pit and other features.
They started out hoping to host a variety of events, said Roberts, but have ended up being inundated by weddings in particular. They’ve booked brides from all over the world and, thanks to a combination of publicity from bridal publications, word of mouth and Facebook, they’re getting busier all the time.
“We’re finding that it’s a niche in the marketplace. People are looking for experiences and this is just different, it’s your barn for the day,” she said.
And despite what people might think, it’s not just farm girls and guys who want to get married in a barn.
“That’s the ironic thing. We do have some people who grew up on farms and it’s nostalgic, they played in the hayloft and they just love it and want a simply country wedding. But then we have people who grew up in a major city, elegant rustic chic is really in now … they don’t want the typical hotel look, they want something different,” she said.
The Roberts hope to continue to expand the services at Clinton Hills and are trying to attract more variety in the events they host, like the Thursday night concert series they’re running until the end of August.
It’s certainly a nice feeling to see something you’ve worked hard at gain some traction, said Roberts.
“It’s extremely gratifying, we put a lot of hours in here. And I mean we’re not 25 anymore, there’s been a lot of sacrifices to do this.”