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NCTC Features A Christmas Marketplace in Magazine Publication

From mule barn to A Christmas Marketplace by Jen Calhoun

The Story behind one of Red Boiling Spring most popular venues and events...

April Patterson used to look at her late grandpa's barn and sign. A telephone pole was just about the only thing keeping the decades old structure in Red Boiling Springs from total collapse.

Tearing it down was not an option, however. Her late grandfather, Lemuel Smith, loved that barn. It's where he kept the mules he prized and where he housed the dairy cows that helped his family survive during the lean years. It felt like the heartbeat of the farm. So, when it came time to make a decision, April chose to build it up instead of tear it down. "Seeing Pa's barn with just that telephone pole hiding it up made me sad", she says. "It's a part of our family's story and I wanted to make sure it lived on."

Going to Market

Today, the Barn at Acres of Grace Farms serves as a way to bring people together while also helping small businesses and the community thrive - three things April is passionate about.

Not only does the barn serve a s a wedding and special events venue, but it also hosts a farm-to-table dinner in the fall. A few times a year, April hosts A Southern Marketplace and A Christmas Marketplace, which are two-day barn sales full of shopping, food, and festivities.

During the events, dozens of vendors and food trucks from all over the region gather in and around the barn to sell everything from jewelry to home decor and much more. The events help small businesses and cottage industries reach a larger customer base while also letting them be a part of something big and growing.

"I love entrepreneurs," says April, whose late father, Doug Smith, started a sawmill and Honest Abe Log Homes. Her husband, Nick Patterson, is a cattle farmer who practices sustainability and land stewardship. "I respect their drive and spirit. This is one way to show them some love and support."

The bustling festival atmosphere isn't the only thing April brings to the table. Portions of the proceeds go to building up the community, she says. The events have raised enough money to purchase clothing, school supplies, hygiene products and other items for children in the foster care system, as well as toys, food and necessities for families in need. They also support the local volunteer fire department.

"We believe in giving back." April says. "Showing love and support and giving- that's kind of what it's all about."

Tennessee Christmas

While A Southern Marketplace events take place in the spring and fall, A Christmas Marketplace fills the holiday season with joy and excitement. This year, the event will start on Thursday, Dec. 1, and run through Saturday, Dec. 3.

Molly Cooper, event coordinator for the marketplaces, adorns the farm and its building with millions of twinkling lights, decorated live trees and a magical air that feels more like a movie set that a cattle farm. Carolers dressed in Victorian costumes sing as they stroll the grounds, and food trucks offer everything from hamburgers and barbecue to a full array of desserts. "We bring in anywhere from 80 to 90 vendors, and they set up to sell their jewelry, baskets, boutique items, home decor and so many other things," April says. "Customers have access to all these small businesses in one place, and it's decorated so beautifully. The spirit of Christmas is giving, so to see people shopping for their loved ones makes it even more special."

In the coming months, the family plans to unveil farm-stay accommodations build out of a giant grain bin, as well as a commercial kitchen for entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses without the expense of building commercial kitchens on their own. "We are all about supporting one another, encouraging one another," says April, who has made it her mission to do just that. "People need that, especially these days."

The full magazine can be found here:

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