WATA Asks Senate To Remove ‘Wedding Barn’ Provisions

If you’re in Wisconsin, you’ve probably heard of a wedding barn or event barn. These are barns on private land that a farmer rents out to a private event, such as a wedding or a family reunion.

Wedding barns have been legally operating in Wisconsin for over 40 years, according to the Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association.

However, there are a few bills circulating the state Senate that could change how these farmers operate their event barns, and WATA says it’s a problem. The association is opposing provisions in SB 332 that would add more stringent rules for agriculture venues. It would require farmers to have liquor licenses — which may require special zoning — or else get a permit that would only allow six events a year.

Greg Schauf of Country Reflections in Sparta tells Mid-West Farm Report it this would classify private land as a public space and take away his ability to keep his Century Farm economically viable.

“I have dedicated my life to this farm,” he says. “My desire is to preserve our family’s heritage along with the rural integrity of the land. Creating a new purpose for this farm helps give me the opportunity to do that.”

WATA is asking the Senate to remove all venue language from the bill, and then move the bill forward. The association supports the rest of the language in the bill that would allow wineries to stay open until midnight, brew pubs to operate stand-alone retail stores, and add a new statewide bartender license.