When Robert and Deb Benada took over as the owners of the Crystal River Inn Bed and Breakfast in 2006, they wondered how they could use the old barn.
On Sunday, July 4, the barn will be opened to the public for a folk concert.
“We’re excited,” Deb Benada said.
Lil’ Rev, of Milwaukee, plays guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele and harmonica, and is an award-winning songwriter and music historian.
The concert is from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Children 12 and under are free. To reserve a spot, call 715-258-5333.
Beverages will be provided, and there will be a dessert potluck.
Benada explained how it came to be that their first event in the barn would be a Lil’ Rev concert.
“Friends of ours from Weyauwega have house concerts. We said that’s just what we always wanted to haveat our place,” she said.
Their friends had arranged for Lil’ Rev to do a concert at their home on July 4 and then suggested that the concert be at the Crystal River Inn instead.
In the meantime, a group of women who have been making quilts for some time asked if they could have a quilt show in their granary. The quilt show will take place Friday through Sunday in the granary.
It so happens that Lil’ Rev loves quilting and has a CD that celebrates the tradition of quilting.
“It’s a communal event,” Benada said. “Women making quilts, and his appreciation for it.”
And, Robert Benada said the two events came to be completely independent of each other.
One of their dreams coming to Rural was to patronize and support local artists.
As for their barn, which was built in 1902, there will be plenty of seating available for Sunday’s concert.
Butch and Lois Sorenson, who sold the Crystal River Inn to the Benadas, had purchased 42 seats from the Gerold Opera House in Weyauwega. In addition, there are two church pews in the barn.
Deb said the barn was a great resource and that the Sorensons did much to keep it up.
“They kept it structurally sound,” Robert said. “They never used it. We had to replace some of the beams and flooring.”
They worked to keep the barn as original as possible.
Other projects they have done since taking over the bed and breakfast include installing a seven-circuit labyrinth and re-establishing a prairie.
But, it was the barn that Robert first had his eye on, wanting to do something with the space.
“We thought it’s perfect for having community events,” Deb said. “We would like it to be a rural community gathering place.”