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The Farmer and I exchanged vows on the farm 10 years ago this week. It was a blustery, warm day and chunky clouds hovered over our heads, providing dramatic photos and reminding us that life wouldn’t be without its storms.
The rain held off until well after the dinner hour, when everyone was having way too much fun in the party tent to notice. That, too, was captured in a photograph with a curtain of rain veiling the silhouettes of revellers under the white tent in the moonlight.
We had so much fun that night, we’ve repeated the party every year since.
This year, however, the Farmer announced that he quits. Not the marriage – just the party.
An annual outdoor party is a tradition for many country dwellers but it’s no easy feat. It takes a few days to organize and set up, and a few more to clean up afterwards.
Our annual farm party isn’t as extravagant as the renowned event hosted each year by Farmer John of Chesterville, for example (where you can see skydivers arrive by helicopter and DJs turn the event into a rave after dark). But it’s a pretty big deal just the same.
You need road signs so people who come from away don’t get lost. Tents or extra air mattresses and bedding so those who party hard have a safe place to sleep it off. Perhaps even a porta-pottie if you’re expecting dozens of guests.
I recommend a potluck of appetizers and sharing plates, or a burger and sausage barbecue for the easiest party foods. But you’ll need food and plenty of it. Dancing under the stars for hours makes people very hungry. They’ll eat when they arrive, snack throughout the evening, and feast again at midnight before they leave or turn in for the evening.
The morning after the party, your home and property will look like a fairground after the circus has left town.
The whole endeavour was just a bit too much for the Farmer this year, so we passed the torch on â€¦ to the children.
Our girls are now in their 20s, so they can handle organizing a party. They weren’t willing to see the annual date pass without the usual celebration, so our daughter and her fiancÃ©, who are experienced in restaurant management and event catering, decided to give it a go.
The first big difference was that a keg arrived. In the beginning, I felt this might be unnecessary. In hindsight, however, I admit that having a central beer hub and reusable cups cut down significantly on the recycling and garbage in the morning. Everyone who pulled on the draft put a fiver in the jar and the hosts made most of their investment back by the end of the night.
The next big change was that we had no hokey karaoke this year. Instead, our hosts invited one of their favourite local musicians to set the mood as the sun set. He sang folksy, bluesy tunes while our guests arrived, mingled, munched by the fire and jumped in the pool.
After sunset, there was no need to coax anyone onto the dance floor. The kids had collaborated on a playlist of club music, greatest dance hits, techno and remixes that kept us all up hopping and bopping until we had worn a dance floor into the lawn outside the barn. Our revolving Christmas lights became a disco strobe and another musician loaned us his colourful spotlights.
The weather was perfect. That was the lucky part. After a summer like we’ve had (and we aren’t really complaining about the rain, because at least we’re not on fire), you never know what you’re going to get.
We borrowed and set up a party tent just in case, but we didn’t need it. The wind kept both the mosquitoes and the dampness away, and the campfire eliminated the chill in the air.
Around 10:30 p.m. (just before the municipal noise curfew), we had fireworks. They weren’t huge but they were impressive. The Farmer moved the pyro technicians out into the pasture and away from the house when he realized what they were doing. It took him a few minutes to relax and realize that the stray sparks weren’t going to land in his hayloft and destroy his barn.
If that was indeed our last annual farm party, it went out with a bang. A great time was had by all, as evidenced by the stray pair of underwear discovered on the lawn by the pool the next morning (we’re assuming skinny-dipping but no one is confessing to anything).
The next generation will now take over hosting a wedding reception next year and many future birthdays, baby showers and summer barbecues as we go forward. We’re happy to provide the farm as the venue.
Troy Media columnist Diana Fisher is a freelance writer living on a 200-acre farm along the Kemptville Creek in Oxford Mills, Ont.
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