Shabbona couple prepares barn for wedding, DeKalb County Barn Tour

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For one Shabbona couple, their wedding budget has also become an investment into their property. While they don’t actively farm their property on Miller Road in Shabbona, Austihave been working on sprucing up the big red barn for their September nuptials.

“It was love at first sight, with both Alex and this place,” Mitchell said. “Without a doubt we knew we wanted to get married here.”

Their decision to purchase a home in rural Shabbona was an easy choice, too. They both spent most of their childhood in the country; Austin, 28, is from Waterman, and Alex, 25, is from Hinckley.

The Mitchell barn, which sits on 6 acres and is surrounded by more than 170 trees, is one of ten stops on this year’s DeKalb County Barn Tour, an annual fundraiser for the Joseph F. Glidden Homestead and the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association. The event, held from 9 am to 4 pm on August 12, is a self-guided driving tour of barns throughout the Waterman and Shabbona area. The tour begins in downtown Waterman at the parking lot south of Route 30, and the Mitchell farm is stop 6 on the tour.

A guided tour will be held at each of the ten barns, with demonstrations, displays, and family activities along the way. At the Mitchell barn, Alex and Austin will discuss their work to clean up the barn and how they will use the property for their September wedding.

They’ll also discuss the history of their property, which was owned by just one family, for more than 100 years, before their purchase of it in January 2016.

To prepare for their upcoming wedding, Austin ran new electrical work throughout the barn and pressure washed it. He strung more than 10,000 lights across the ceiling of the barn, and has been building tables for their 200 guests. Alex said she loves to watch Austin work on the wedding projects.

“He always has a smile on his face,” she said.

The couple planted “tons” of sunflowers near the barn, which will bloom just in time for their fall wedding. In just two and a half years, the couple started dating, purchased a house, got engaged, and are now planning for their wedding.

“It’s been a crazy couple years,” Austin said. “But when I ‘know,’ I just go for it.” After the wedding, Austin’s auto work and woodworking projects may extend into the barn. “Or it may be a kids play area when we have children,” Austin said. “The possibilities are endless.”

The entire barn tour encompasses about 30 miles, and includes other barns from the Shabbona/Waterman area, including: the Ostfriesland Farm on Route 23 in Waterman, Waterman Winery & Tuntland Barn, Honey Hill Orchard, and Carroll Farm on First Street in Waterman. Shabbona locations include the Mitchell Farm, Challand Barn on University Road, the Barn at Red Home Farm on Tower Road, and the Brummel-Larson Barn and Hart Homestead, both on Shabbona Road.

The tour begins on August 12th, in downtown Waterman at the parking lot south of Route 30 with the purchase of a souvenir Guide Book with map, which serves as your ticket. Tickets are $25 per carload and are also available online at dekalbcountybarntour.yapsody.com or at each site the day of the event.

Additional information on this year’s DeKalb County Barn Tour is available by contacting Glidden Homestead at 815-756-7904 or info@gliddenhomestead.org or by visiting gliddenhomestead.org, or DAAHA at 815-756-8737 or daaha.inc@gmail.com or by visiting daaha.org. Follow Barn Tour updates on Facebook at Barn Tour of DeKalb County IL.

By Jessi LaRue for the DeKalb County Barn Tour