Local Business Feature:
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
Retirement for most usually results in fishing, golf, joining clubs and other leisure activities, but for one local retired KSP Trooper, Scott Skaggs is busier now than he's ever been, overseeing his wedding and event venue: The Hidden Homestead.
Built on property where he grew up and currently resides in Chalybeate, the impressive structure and grounds have the rustic look of a southern barn with the amenities of a modern-day venue.
He discussed when he first approached his parents, Wavie and Lynn Skaggs, about purchasing the property from them for his venue idea.
"Dad knew I didn't have any interest in farming, so he was confused as to why I'd want it," he said. "When I told him I wanted to build a wedding barn, he was even more confused. He said 'who'd want to get married in a barn?'"
Apparently lots of folks, according to the booking schedule of the facility. Skaggs said when he first designed the project about 5 years ago, he estimated that it would work as long as he could book 20 weddings per year. He said he had already booked three of them before the structure was even built and he's currently booking about 40 weddings and events each year.
In addition to being a State Trooper, he also has 15 years experience as a wedding photographer. That experience is what brought on the idea and design of the HH.
"Everything about The Hidden Homestead is designed for the purpose of the perfect wedding," he said. "Over the years of taking wedding pictures, I've seen a lot of venues for weddings and saw what worked and didn't work. The property is designed to help enhance wedding photography, which is a huge part of the wedding process. During the design and planning stage, I contacted countless brides about what would've made their special day even better. I took their advice and I think I've incorporated a little bit of all those suggestions into this place."
So what is this place and what can one find here? Obviously the barn itself is the center focus of the property, which Skaggs says can comfortably accommodate anywhere from 275 to 300 people. It's a two-story building with tables and chairs on both levels. Both the front and back entrances feature huge, swing-away doors with the back doors opening up to a gorgeous view of the rest of the property.
From the rear of the building is an outdoor chapel-like area with pews, a custom fire pit, additional outdoor seating, a gazebo, and a large pond with fountain and dock.
The property is a family affair on multiple fronts. The land obviously came from the family, "the homestead," and his wife Michelle, and sons help work there during events and regular maintenance. Other family members help out during busy times and his brothers also had large roles in the building of the property: Steve Skaggs, owner of C&S Real Estate Management, served as general contractor for the project, and Eric Skaggs, retired cabinet and custom wood man, helped complete several custom projects on the property.
Skaggs says his property is different from other venues because the pricing at The Hidden Homestead is all-inclusive.
"We have three or four completely separate areas that can used on the property. We include all the tables, chairs, and table linens. We have a complete kitchen, thousands of dollars worth of decorations that can be used, and dressing rooms that can also be used as bedrooms if you need to stay the night before. Some places charge you separately for all these things, but we include the entire experience," he said.
Skaggs also added that he enjoys what the facility has brought to the local community and the opportunities it's created for the venue to give back to the county.
"When people have weddings here, they're also making trips to the local Dollar Store, the food mart, the gas station. It's made an impact here locally. We've also been able to give back to local sports and other programs, too."
The Hidden Homestead recently partnered with Bank of Edmonson County to provide a new scoreboard at the ECHS Baseball Field in Brownsville.
Skaggs also noted that most weddings are booked by those coming from out-of-town, which is something he'd like to see changed.
"About 60% of our weddings are by people that are driving from elsewhere," he said. We're staying busy but we'd like to see more of our own residents here. We've been here for 4 years and there are still tons of people in Edmonson County that don't know we're here."
The facility has already undergone a few different additions to accommodate growth and a new entrance is still under construction. Skaggs says weddings are not the only events booked there. ECHS held the 2018 prom at the facilty, and it was even used for a Dierks Bentley video, "You Can't Bring Me Down."
"We've hosted proms, family reunions, baby showers, Christmas parties, and other corporate events," he said. "We can handle just about any type of gathering."
To book an event or to make an appointment to see the property, you can call 270-597-2598, or visit their Facebook Page here. You can also visit their website here.
The property is located at 56 Chapel Center Lane, Smiths Grove, KY 42171 in the Chalybeate community.
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