November 22, 2022 at 8:57 p.m.
Otte opens Twisted Oaks wedding venue
On 393rd Avenue, just east of Sauk Centre, there is a new venue ready for weddings and other large events: Twisted Oaks. The barn and open-air pavilion are the project of Jeff and Stacey Otte, and while the barn has been hosting people for about a decade, they are ready to expand.
The Ottes have lived on the property for 20 years, putting up the red barn in 2004. At first, the barn was built as storage and a place to hang out; the Ottes then started hosting some small events in his barn around 2012, which by then had its lower-level decorations he had salvaged from various barns and buildings. Jeff had acquired many of the items – including vintage signs, fuel pumps and vending machines – while he was traveling the five-state area to do kettle corn concessions at events.
“I would see something, pull in and ask them to sell it,” Jeff said. “Sometimes they wouldn’t, and sometimes they’d say, ‘We have other stuff.’ It’s been a hobby for a while.”
Much of the barn’s wood was taken from old barns in the area.
“Vern Botz had the first barn in Sauk Centre that I and Virgil Niehaus took down,” Jeff said. “All the tin was salvaged.”
The barn’s upstairs was converted into a large bar with an Amish-cut wood floor, an outdoor balcony and more antique signage.
Even with both floors of the barn, the Ottes did not have enough to hold wedding receptions and other events of that size.
“We were going to put a 40-by-60 tent out of the front (of the barn), but the cost and occupancy for doing weddings or events, it wouldn’t have been big enough,” Jeff said. “We would’ve had to have the overhead door open, so then we proceeded to do an event pavilion where we could at least have 350 people.”
Construction of the 50-by-120 pavilion began in 2021. Prior to that, the Ottes needed to get licensed for the building, a process that involved getting approval from the Minnesota Department of Labor as well as various state and county agencies, including water, septic, electrical and fire agencies. Because the pavilion was designed to have 5,000 square feet of space and an occupancy of over 300, they needed to install a fire sprinkler system as well.
The pavilion has roll-up vinyl sides which can be lowered in case of weather. To the west of the structure is an outdoor bathroom, and to the east – between the pavilion and the parking lot – is a small cemented courtyard with a black converted shipping crate which, when its side windows are open, serves as an outdoor bar. Weddings can be held under the nearby arbor.
The barn itself also has wedding-related space with its rooms along the east wall: a storage room, a bathroom and a bridal parlor. The bathroom has a barbershop-themed exterior, and the other two rooms have custom-painted windows that read, “R.J. Otte Mercantile Hardware” and “S.R. General Store.”
“Bill Gillies painted those,” Jeff said. “It’s for our daughter, Shelby Rose, and our son, Riley James.”
The upstairs bar can also serve as the gentlemen’s quarters.
The venue has already had a couple of smaller events, and the Ottes are excited to watch the business grow and become a meaningful location in people’s lives.
“I’ve always liked challenges, just seeing it finally in progress is exciting,” Jeff said.