Rustic country weddings are a hot trend all over the nation, and they’re even more popular here in the Yakima Valley, where we’re actually IN the country. Kelsey Von Stubbe has built the first-ever “Mobile Pop-up Barn,” and she hopes brides across the state will find it the perfect venue for their weddings.

Kelsey says her “Aha” moment came after she planned her own wedding here in Yakima in 2015, and right after she’d been laid off from her job as PR and marketing manager for Teatro Zinzanni in Seattle. The company lost its lease at Seattle Center and shut down the show. It was live musical theater in a European-style ‘Spiegeltent’ — a large, moveable structure with dining tables, a stage, and swings inside for circus-style dinner shows.

“I had a lot of time on my hands,” she says, “and I was watching a TV show where they were poking fun at a standard white wedding tent at a party and I thought, ‘Those are kind of lame. Could I build something better than that?’ I love the rustic, country look.” She grew up in Yakima and her parents have land on Ahtanum Ridge. She thought of putting a wedding tent there for her big day, but decided that it didn’t seem special enough. She ended up getting hitched in a barn at American Homestead in Naches.

After the dust settled, she started researching the idea of a mobile rustic wedding venue, and learned there was nothing like it on the market. She wanted to combine a moveable tent like Teatro Zinzanni’s with a country barn. “It’s a tent but it’s made out of wood,” she says.

“It took a while to figure out how to build it,” she adds, “because it wasn’t a thing that existed.” At first, she envisioned it like a concert stage with a suspended lighting grid, but decided that wouldn’t work. She met with an architect and a contractor, but they told her they’d have to outsource a lot of the work, which would be costly. She needed someone who specialized in this type of unique structure, and finally she found a company called Stage Plan, Inc.

“They do a lot of large trade shows and retail installations, and all of REI’s store fixtures,” she explains. “They have a giant shop in Enumclaw and they do all sorts of crazy stuff involving fabrication and carpentry, so when I presented them with my idea they weren’t fazed by it at all. They said ‘Oh yeah, we can do that!’ and I was like ‘Yes!’”

The traveling barn is 1,000 square feet, and can seat 100 people for a sit-down event, or 120 for an intimate concert. It has aged steel roofing and weathered wood, which creates a realistic, rustic-looking barn. It has 14-foot tall ceilings, decorative chandeliers, tables and chairs, country-style string lights, and a generator. It does not have traditional flooring (i.e. the floor is grass or whatever surface you put it on), but you can always rent a dance floor.

So how the heck do you take a giant pop-up barn on the road? The $6,000 price tag includes transportation and a crew of 12-14 people who put it up and take it down. “I’ve got a 26-foot Penske moving truck, where we put most of the heavy stuff, wall panels and roofing, and I have a Dodge Ram and a 24-foot car trailer which is low to the ground so it’s easy to walk in and out, and that’s where we put all the aluminum beams and tools.” Two trial runs in November were a great success. Tentwood Events Public Relations Rep. Michelle Leyva says “Tentwood has received tremendous response from the public as well as from the lifestyle/wedding tastemakers of the region and country … We even had someone request the barn in Hawaii!”

Kelsey describes the advantages of tying the knot in her traveling barn: “If you’re in a traditional venue you have from 8 a.m. and you’ve got to be out at 10 p.m. I can set up the barn on Thursday. People could have all day Friday to decorate, have a rehearsal dinner, and I can come back Sunday or Monday to break it down. I think that could help alleviate some of the stress for brides. No one wants to start cleaning up the venue after the wedding. You want to keep celebrating with your friends and family!” In addition to that, she says a lot of traditional venues require you to use their in-house caterers — but in the barn, you can use anyone you want.

With the wedding season underway, she’s doing a number of events on the West Side, and is working with a bride-to-be here in Central Washington. But this 30-year-old UW grad has even bigger things in mind. “My long-term goal is to make and sell these structures to other states and other countries.” She could see it as a VIP lounge at a country music festival, and is already thinking of creating a traveling castle, or a mini-white wedding chapel. When you’re from Yakima — anything is possible!

You can find more at tentwood.com, on social media @tentwoodevents, or call 425-908-0352.

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