‘Bachelor’s barn’ in Halstad becomes wedding central for many throughout Red River Valley – InForum

HALSTAD, Minn. — Stacy Christianson sometimes wonders what Marvin would think.

When she and her brother, Bryce Stromstad, bought the Halstad, Minnesota, farm in 2015, they learned it was the long-time home of the late Marvin Menge, a well-known local farmer and confirmed bachelor.

So they couldn’t help but see the irony that they were turning the farm into

Legacy Acres,

an events center mostly devoted to weddings.

In other words, it would become a place where hundreds of men bid farewell to their bachelorhood.

Even if Marvin couldn’t have predicted the barn’s future fate, his barn seems to have transitioned seamlessly from milking cows to sharing vows. “When things go right, we’ll say, ‘Thanks Marvin,’ because the barn had the perfect layout for a wedding venue,” says Christianson, with a laugh.

Like so many rural events venues that have cropped up in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota, the Legacy Acres’ barn acts as the central showpiece and main activity center.

Legacy Acres also provides a green space and trees for an outdoor ceremony.

Contributed / Legacy Acres

Built from a 1958 Sears kit, the iconic white structure features a gracefully arched Gothic roofline. Inside, Christianson speculates that Menge must have spent extra on sturdier construction: The rafters are spaced so close together that there are no bulky support beams or distracting pillars to obstruct the view. And after over 50 years of use, the second-floor hardwood floor remains beautifully intact.

Christianson and Stromstad were so smitten with the structure that she says they were ready to buy the 13-acre property the minute they saw it.

Just as they were about to climb back into the car, the real estate agent said, “Don’t you want to see the house?”

Everyone laughed as Christianson and Stromstad agreed to tour the house, almost as an afterthought. The farmhouse turned out to be just right for her large family, but it really was Marvin’s barn that sealed the deal.

The barn, about 5,000 square feet total, can accommodate up to 300 guests, although there’s also plenty of room outside to erect additional tents.

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Owner Stacy Christianson likes to offer flexibility to her customers as to whether they hold their reception or meals upstairs or downstairs. In this configuration, dining was set up on the main floor.

Contributed / Legacy Acres

But people who have used this facility say this property, located 6½ miles from Halstad, has more to offer than buildings.

Like Christianson, who is bubbly, personable and experienced at wedding decor and floral arrangement.

“Stacy is wonderful,” says Alyssa Kriesel Jordan, who married Walter Jordan at Legacy Acres Aug. 13. “I think it’s not only the space you’re in, it’s the people who are going to be involved in something that is as big as your wedding. We tried to treat the event more as a party. She had a huge part in that and her family was super-welcoming.”

Another feature that sets Legacy Acres apart is its many add-on options. Because of Christianson’s design background, couples can leave the decorating and floral-design to her. Rates range from a $3,000, one-day “basic” package to a $7,000, all-inclusive package, which includes extras like decor planning and set-up, sound system, cupcakes and couple’s cake, and full social hour and dance set-up (complete with snacks table).


The barn’s soaring second-floor ceiling presents an ideal backdrop for wedding receptions and other events at Legacy Acres.

Contributed / Legacy Acres

“It was just one less thing to worry about. Her prices are phenomenal for everything you get,” Jordan says.

Christianson also offers decorating and floral services at weddings held at other venues. It helps supplement their business income in the wintertime, she says, as “Marvin’s barn” isn’t heated, so events can run only from late spring through fall.

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Stacy Christianson offers decorating services for weddings, parties and other events at Legacy Acres and also offsite.

Contributed / Legacy Acres

Inspiration follows tragedy

Christianson’s apprenticeship into events-organizing began decades before opening Legacy Acres.

The Beltrami, Minnesota, native recalls sitting in church during services and imagining how she would decorate the interior for weddings.

Both of her grandmothers had an eye for design. “Grandma Gertrude was country/rustic before country was cool and Grandma Tootsie was more feminine and trendy, so I learned early how to notice styles and help people create a desired look,” she says. “I think that has translated well to helping me listen to couples and create the look or vibe they are going for.”


Legacy Acres is a family project, with three generations of family pitching in to help decorate, park cars, direct guests and clean up afterward. Chad and Stacy Christianson (seventh and eighth from left) now oversee the majority of the events, although Stacy’s brother, Bryce Stromstad (far right) was essential in helping renovate and establish the venue in its early years. Stacy and Bryce’s mom, Linda Stromstad (far left) is a trained floral designer who helps Stacy with the flowers.

Contributed / Legacy Acres

After she married Chad Christianson, they lived in several different Minnesota communities, where they ran a Bible camp and Chad later worked as a youth director.

While living in Walker, Minnesota, Christianson launched Simply Stacy, a wedding and events decorating company.

After a few years, Christianson and her mom, Linda Stromstad, decided to also study floral design so they could create a more cohesive overall effect with their decor. Following classes at Koehler and Dramm Wholesale Florist in the Twin Cities, they’ve offered floral services ever since.


Floral designers Stacy Christianson and her mother, Linda Stromstad, offer floral design as an optional add-on when people book events at Legacy Acres near Halstad, Minn.

Contributed / Legacy Acres

In 2014, tragedy hit. Christianson’s brother, Kory, died and everything changed. The Christiansons moved back home to the Hatton, North Dakota, area to be closer to loved ones. At the time, Stacy was still driving across Minnesota to fulfill decorating gigs, during which time she pondered what to do with her life.

“You know, these huge events have such a catalyst in our life,” she says. “They make you pause.”

Christianson’s older brother, Bryce, was also struggling with Kory’s death, which made Christianson wonder if they could find comfort and meaning by working on a project together.

She thought of her expertise in decor and floral and his ability to fix or build almost anything.

When she suggested an event center, he agreed.


Stacy Christianson and Bryce Stromstad embarked on the Legacy Acres project as a way to use their talents while dealing with the grief caused by the loss of their brother in 2014.

Contributed / Legacy Acres

‘Like a Hallmark movie’

The siblings originally planned to base the venue at their grandmother’s farm near Hatton, she says, but “it was a total God thing that he led us in a different direction.”

Not long after, two other event centers — Naastad Acres and the 1908 House — both popped up right by Hatton.

In the summer of 2015, Christianson says she was in the Christiansons’ bedroom “and had been kind of crying because life wasn’t working the way I wanted it to, and here was this property that popped up.”

She was excited to see Menge’s farm was right by Halstad, where she used to attend basketball games while in school.

Renovations began in February of 2016. They had to gut the interior, which still had hay in the loft and milking stanchions on the ground floor. Bryce, also an expert forklift operator, did much of the demo work.


Bryce Stromstad helps demo the interior fixtures of the barn as part of the Legacy Acres renovation.

Contributed / Legacy Acres

The structure featured two adjacent wings. One housed the milk room, which was transformed into restrooms while two additional restrooms were added to the second floor. The second wing now accommodates a full staircase because one originally had to climb a ladder to get to the loft.

An old granary was refurbished and outfitted with air conditioning to provide a “getting ready” space for wedding parties.


Bride Amber Henderson gets ready for her big day in the converted granary at Legacy Acres.

Contributed / Legacy Acres

The area’s ample green spaces lent themselves to a tree-framed ceremony site and areas where guests can play lawn games.

When COVID prohibited large indoor events, Christianson and Stromstad improvised. He built an outdoor dance floor, which couples still use today. “The first time we did it it was like a Hallmark movie,” Christianson says. “It was beautiful with the lights overhead and everyone having a great time.”

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An outdoor dance floor, built to accommodate COVID limitations on indoor gatherings, has turned out to be a popular, long-term feature of Legacy Acres weddings.

Contributed / Legacy Acres

Eight years and no bridezillas

Many of Legacy Acres’ couples are from Fargo but some are from neighboring communities. Some live in Fargo and have family in Grand Forks or vice versa. Legacy Acres presents the perfect halfway point to meet.

“The ones that come are looking for some sort of country setting,” she says. “They’re usually people who want some kind of privacy on their day, because at a hotel ballroom, there might be two or three other weddings happening at the same time.”

Her clients also value a flexible and relaxed vibe. She holds one wedding per weekend, so customers can usually set up on Friday and pack up on Sunday.

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Many couples who gravitate to Legacy Acres near Halstad, Minn., seem to like the private, rural setting, the relaxed vibe and the friendly atmosphere, says Legacy Acres Owner Stacy Christianson.

Contributed / Legacy Acres

“With some venues, you’re expected to be in at 9 (a.m.) and out at 1 (a.m.),” she says. “I think that’s also why we get called in a lot to do our offsite work because people will call and say, ‘There is no way we can make that happen.’ But if they hire us, we’re working on it while they’re doing their dance.”

Legacy Acres was busy every weekend for the last two years but has openings in July and October this year, which is unusual.

“I think what holds us back a little bit from being booked every single weekend is our location,” Christianson says.

If people are concerned about catering the event or lodging, Christianson says wedding parties have booked hotel rooms in nearby Hillsboro or Ada or reserved a shuttle service. She also provides a name of vetted caterers to her couples.

The Halstad location was ideal for their small wedding of 75 guests, Jordan says, as almost all of their guests hailed from the Twin Cities.

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Another view of a Legacy Acres reception.

Contributed / Legacy Acres

Jordan also valued the friendly and welcoming vibe. “I was just looking for different venues that weren’t that stuffy conference-room, corporate feel. I didn’t want it in Fargo, we wanted it to be more of that rustic feel,” she says. “We would have done it at our house if we’d had the resources to coordinate all that, so we were looking for something laid-back that had the space.”

The Halstad venue and the Christiansons’ philosophy fit the bill.

“We’ve always operated on the idea that the couples that are meant to come to us will come to us,” Christianson says. “You talk about bridezillas and whatnot and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I don’t really have that … We like to treat people like if it were our family and they were getting married, how would we like it to be?”

Learn more about Legacy Acres at