The Party Barn
How one North Carolina couple built an over-the-top entertaining spot in record time
“My friends and I love to travel and learn,” Betty Becher is saying. “And last January, we went to the Southern Foodways Alliance weekend at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, where I was introduced to Jimmy Hagood. He’s from Charleston, South Carolina, and he hauls around this thing called the Big Red Rig. It’s a barbecue smoker he pulls behind his truck.”
A few minutes after Betty met the barbecue king, she asked if he’d be interested in showing off his skills for her upcoming birthday at the weekend farm she shares with her husband, Jim, in the mountains of North Carolina. Hagood said yes.
“But then it got even better,” Betty says. “That same weekend I saw these wonderful musicians from Nashville, Joey + Rory, perform.” During the charity auction supporting the SFA, she asked the folks running things if they would auction off a performance by the duo. “Next thing I knew, I had a weekend barbecue and music party at our farm, but nowhere to put everybody,”she says.
Working with architect James Meyer, of Meyer Greeson Paullin Benson in Charlotte (the firm responsible for designing the bucolic Chattooga Club in Cashiers, North Carolina), the Bechers decided to take an existing cattle barn on their property and turn part of it into a space for parties and events. “We didn’t really use it for cattle shows anymore,” Jim says. “And at first, Betty wanted to make two-thirds of it a party barn, but I still needed to use some of it, so we compromised. We agreed the party area could be sixty feet by fifty feet, with the rest left as a working barn.”