By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
“Let’s go to the beach!” No, you won’t need sunscreen and a towel. This is not an ocean beach, but it is a wonderful place to relax. It can host a wedding or other special event in a beautiful, rustic setting.
The Kejr family near Salina has farmed in Kansas for more than a century. Joe and Geena Kejr, descendants of the original farmers, live on the family farm west of Salina. Their daughter Michelle is marketing director for their newest enterprise, called Kansas Beach Hospitality and Events.
“I lived there my entire life, surrounded by these beautiful farm fields,” Michelle Kejr said. Now her grandfather, father, uncle, brother and cousin are farming together.
Michelle went to K-State as did her older sister and brother. She’s now working on her graduate degree in education. Michelle’s sister met a young man in Manhattan and the two planned to get married in fall 2016. Of course, they needed a place for the wedding and the reception.
The bride and groom-to-be decided to get married on her parent’s farm. But what about the reception?
About two miles from the Kejr home farm is another house and a large outbuilding. Michelle’s aunt and uncle had bought this house about 30 years ago. They built a large machine shed next to it where Joe and Geena held their wedding reception when the building was new. Michelle’s sister thought it would be neat to have her reception in that same building, three decades later.
Meanwhile Michelle’s aunt and uncle moved out and Joe and Geena took ownership. They realized that the house and building would make a great place for their daughter’s wedding reception and could be used for future events which they could attract.
The house was in great shape. It had three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths, large living room and dining rooms, finished basement, and a beautiful wraparound porch with a screened-in section next to the kitchen.
The outbuilding was totally remodelled by the Kejrs. They built on an addition with a kitchen and bathrooms, complete with an attractive barn quilt on the outside. “The barn quilt was designed and painted by my cousin, the daughter of the aunt and uncle who lived there,” Michelle said.
The Kejr family had the electrical system in the building totally redone. A new railing was added to the existing balcony. New LED lighting and Edison bulbs were installed in the building. From the ceiling, they suspended what looks like the frame of a barn roof. This faux barn roof created an awesome appearance and marked the dance floor area.
On a beautiful fall day in September 2016, the Kejr family hosted the daughter’s wedding on the farm. Then the bride and groom travelled to the reception in the uncle’s Model A Ford, which ran like a charm. The event was a resounding success. After that the house and building were available to host future weddings and other events.
But what should this facility be named? Before the Kejr family owned the house, it was owned by Roy and Fern Beach. “We always referred to it as the Beach House,” Michelle said. They decided to honor the original owner of the house so they called it the Kansas Beach Hospitality and Events.
“It has fields of wheat all around it so it is like a beach, surrounded by amber waves of grain,” Michelle said. “Although we have had some calls from people on the coast who wondered how far we are from the water, so we had to give them a quick geography lesson.”
The Kansas Beach Hospitality and Events is in a peaceful, rural setting yet is only 15 minutes from Salina. It’s located north of the rural community of Brookville, population 257 people. Now, that’s rural.
For more information, see www.kansasbeach.com.
“Let’s go to the beach!” No, don’t worry about sunburn. This is the Kansas Beach Hospitality and Events. We salute Joe, Geena, and Michelle Kejr and all those involved who are making a difference by hosting these events in rural Kansas. It’s like they have Beach-front property.
Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.