By Christy Porter, Managing Editor
There are times when personal need prompts entrepreneurship. Such is the inspiration of The Grand Black event venue located three miles south of Licking at 11084 Hwy. 137.
When Scott and Melissa Werkmeister’s niece planned her wedding, there was difficulty in locating the desired venue, a barn. Even after locating an acceptable location, the wedding party had the added stress of preparing the venue and the cleanup afterwards, taking time that could have been better spent with family and friends.
Their long-time dream of an event barn broke ground in January 2020. Melissa acknowledges, “The barn was completed this month (October), with the amazing help of my parents, Bob and Judy Shelton.”
The Grand Black hosted their first event, a wedding, on Saturday, Oct. 17. They look forward to hosting many more weddings, family reunions and celebrations, birthdays, baby showers, receptions, corporate/company or school events, business meetings or those just wanting to have a party. “I want so many awesome memories to be made here,” says Melissa.
The Grand Black’s exterior appearance resembles an impressive barn nestled in the Ozarks; with the pond and mature oak forest to the east and farmland meadows surrounding the barn and displaying to the northwest, it offers wonderful photography opportunities.
The 82 x 108-feet interior, with 27-foot high ceilings, is finished in an elegant and classic black and white theme with crystal lighting accents, which can easily incorporate individualized event décor and colors. The facility can accommodate up to 400 people. There is a full kitchen with an island; it is handicapped accessible, has modern restrooms and is climate controlled for year-round events. Decorated tables with centerpieces, chairs, tablecloths and cleanup are included in all pricing options. “We wanted to do things the way we wished they had been done at our niece’s wedding venue,” agreed Scott and Melissa on including the extras. For those desiring wedding accommodations, there is a groom and bridal suite with a central staircase for the bride’s entrance. There are plans to add honeymoon and bridal suite cabins, as well as expand with additional deck locations.
The facility is ideally situated in a centralized accessible location between St. Louis and Springfield, with easy access from many surrounding areas such as Rolla, St. James, Lebanon, Houston, Salem and Fort Leonard Wood.
Melissa is a retired schoolteacher who grew up in the Licking area, and a granddaughter of the Rogers and Sheltons; she graduated from Licking High School and taught with the Licking school system, among others.
Scott is originally from Wisconsin and South Dakota; he and Melissa met while he was stationed with the U.S. Army at Fort Leonard Wood and she was teaching in Salem. They returned to the area when Scott retired from the military. Scott now works with civilian service at Fort Leonard Wood.
The Werkmeisters understand the strength in community, both in their personal and professional lives. The youngest of their four children, daughter Sydnie, is a senior at Licking R-VIII this year. Daughter Kassidie is pursuing a degree in education at MSU. Their oldest daughter, MaKenzie, is a surgical technician at Mercy Hospital in Springfield. Their son, Cameron, the oldest, is a 2015 Mizzou graduate with a degree in journalism and is currently employed in the advertising field.
Professionally, they hope to team with other local businesses and bring them into their venue, those who offer products or services that can enhance events hosted at The Grand Black. Businesses like The Rock House, Designs and Rentals, can supplement décor currently at the venue and Mi Mi’s Kitchen can provide catering for the events. Local businesses such as photographers, florists, caterers, DJ’s, bakeries, etc. that could provide services to clientele utilizing The Grand Black, or those interested in using the venue for special events may contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-578-1035.