In early November, a farm outside Masontown hosts one of the best holiday shows and sales in the state.
I know, Christmas seems to come sooner and sooner every year. But trust me when I say, this three-day shopping event will put you in the spirit. Imagine a working farm transformed into a vintage Christmas wonderland by the American Pickers guys or Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines—and everything is for sale.
Barns, corn cribs, outbuildings, and hay sheds are creatively transformed into miniature shops filled with folk art, antiques, primitives, tattered treasures, reclaimed furniture, shabby chic decor, handmade jewelry, and steampunk tchotchkes. There’s even a restaurant, The Feed Sack, to keep you fueled during your shopping adventure.
This 20-year-old event, originally known as Christmas at the Cabin, was founded by Joyce McCune, Deb Umble, and Deb McCort. It started in Pennsylvania but, by 2015, had outgrown its original venue. Then Brenda Street, who had been a vendor at the show for three years, offered her farm outside Masontown, West Virginia, as a possible location. “I told everyone they could try our farm, but I warned them that it’s pretty rural,” Street says. “And it is really rural. We were worried but operated on the premise, ‘If we build it, they will come.’ We sure are glad they came.”
Anytime a tried-and-true event changes location, you risk the chance of losing devotees. But the move to B.R. Farms proved a good decision. That first year, around 4,000 people made the trek to Masontown over three days. “We were tickled to provide the venue,” Street says. “We worked really hard all summer to make the farm more shoppable. We cleaned the barns, put up shelving, built a farmers’ market around an old box trailer, painted walls, and strung hundreds of lights.”
Work on each year’s show begins immediately after the previous one is completed. Vendors, who are juried by a committee to ensure a diverse collection, begin taking items to the farm and setting up six weeks before opening day. This group of creative souls, decorators, antique collectors, artists, craftspeople, and pickers fill the farm with a wide range of one-of-a-kind items. You’ll find unexpected treasures like a mounted turquoise deer, oversized floor candelabras, and vintage signs. There’s a shed filled to the brim with only white items—from milk glass and painted Victorian furniture to shabby chic chandeliers and distressed benches. There’s artwork, antique tools, and stained glass. And everything is thoughtfully curated and staged. You won’t leave empty-handed. And don’t be surprised if you return again and again with a friend or two.
At night, Christmas at the Barn feels even more magical. The farm twinkles with Christmas lights, candlelit luminaries, and holiday music. People gather around an outdoor fire pit to warm their hands. It’s like the living version of a Norman Rockwell illustration.
The event is expanding for 2017. “We are going bigger and better,” Street says. “We are adding an additional building and trying to have everything under cover so, if the weather is bad, you don’t have to stand in rain. We are adding more antiques and flea market finds, and we have someone who is doing pallet art. We also have a new dessert vendor—Modern Homestead of Reedsville is going to provide seasonal desserts in the Sugar Shack.”
Getting to the farm is half the fun. But be forewarned—it is a bit of a jaunt on a very rough country road that is often one lane. Bring the four-wheel drive. Follow the directions on the website. Don’t follow Google’s directions or GPS, or you just might end up in Texas. There is signage, but you will think you are going in the wrong direction. About the time you decide to turn around, know this: You are almost there. If driving on narrow country roads makes you nervous, go during the day. And leave the credit cards at home; only cash and checks are accepted.
The 2017 show will take place on Thursday, November 2, noon to 9 p.m.; Friday, November 3, noon to 9 p.m., and Saturday, November 4, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 7268 Herring Road, Masontown, christmasatthebarn.com, “Christmas at the Barn” on Facebook
Written by Nikki Bowman
Photographed by Carla Witt Ford