EMERSON FIELDS - FORGING DREAMS INTO REALITY
As you drive north towards Macon on highway 63, perhaps coming back from Moberly or Columbia from Christmas shopping, you cannot miss the grand venue that is featured off the road in a field near the south-end of Macon, Missouri. For the longest time, residents were kept to tabs on the construction process of the venue by its owners, Amelia and Steve Holder. Now, those same residents, get to enjoy the venue itself, as well as, pictures, videos, and social media posts about events that have taken place at what’s become, one of the biggest venues in North Central Missouri. We’ve seen families all celebrate their special day here just south of the City of Maples. Personally, I am headed to Emerson Fields to celebrate the wedding of a cousin of mine. In September of 2017, we had the unique opportunity in interviewing the Holders during the tale end of the construction process and then again, a year later in September of 2018, well after the venue had opened to the public.
Arriving at Emerson Fields in September of 2017, it was the day that the concrete had got treated in the outside patio, the main entrance, and the side entrance. Here we stood in the middle of a field, with just wooden beams, walls, and a roof, that were standing - all of which at this moment and in the future, would mostly be built by Steve and Amelia - both have experience in construction with "flipping" other spaces into something new. Steve would go to work for the Highway Patrol when scheduled, and a big chunk of when he was off, was spent cutting wood, measuring certain places throughout the building, nailing beams where needed, and making supply runs whether that be out of town or in Macon. The Holders had just received their doors for the building - in which they traveled to Columbia to purchase. When asked, “Why the venue?” Mrs. Holder stated a variety of reasons. Reasons such as, retirement is on the horizon and wanted to fill their time with something - accompanied with the fact that their kids are grown and married, they’ve always wanted to run a wedding venue, the desire to provide Macon and the surrounding area with a professional venue of sort, and for many years, Mrs. Holder has spent many hours photo shooting other weddings in other venues and at times always using her experience thinking about what could make a prime event center not only for creating memories, but the ease in capturing those memories on camera. The Holders originally purchased the land just to build their house on and live out retirement there. Even though they still built a “shouse” (a shop and a house combined), the Holders quickly realized this would be a prime location for their dream, to build a venue. Construction began at the beginning of 2017 (groundbreaking May 15th 2017), through the summer, into the fall/winter, and into the beginning of 2018 where it eventually opened while selling out with events taking place at Emerson Fields every weekend, for months in advance. One thing that Mrs. Holder really drove home during the interview is the unique skills that both Steve and herself have. With Steve and other family members helping with the labor and construction part, Amelia would be heading the front online, setting up tours and walks with future brides, and building the literature, advertising, and marketing aspect of their new business, helping Steve too, and choosing the magnificent lighting and chandeliers of the venue. One thing that Mrs. Holder really expressed passion about, is the many decisions have been made on the certain amenities of the venue, the lighting, the colors of certain rooms, etc. Besides discussing the “why” and the construction process, we also discussed they decision to call it Emerson Fields. Like mentioned above, the venue is featured in a field just between Excello and Macon. During the mid to late 1800s, Excello was referred to and formerly named, “Emerson Switch.” Cited by the Holders after sifting through articles by the Macon Republican (local newspaper), the town was prosperous during this time with a hotel, saloon, coal yard, etc. The population was approximately 250 persons. When the town applied for a post office, the US Government informed them that there was already a post office named, “Emerson.” When the small town decided to name the post office, “Excello” it was further determined, to name the town in correspondence with that post office, formally naming the town, “Excello.” The Holders felt that with the location of the venue, with recognizing the history of the area, it would add a unique aspect to the story.
Like mentioned above, shortly after opening up completely in 2018, Emerson Fields was already book for weekends in advance before their first event. The Holders included a lot of advice that was given to them from brides and their families during open houses that they had scheduled, adjusting accordingly. Some of the open houses and tours, happening before the venue even opened. During the 2017 interview, the Holders talked a lot about the concern that future customers had, wasn’t necessarily about themselves, but about their family members and guests that would attend their wedding and reception and the experience they would have. Amelia talked about how most every bride they have worked with and every family, they have been extremely nice and personable through the entire process. Besides holding wedding events at their venue, Emerson Fields offers many residents as a center for meetings, dinners, and other events, whether that be holiday parties, etc. The Macon Area Chamber of Commerce has held several events at the venue including “Chamber After Hours” and their Annual Banquet in which they held May 7th, 2018 where many business, government, and educational leaders in the community, attended the event. The Holders also discussed in the interview that they weren’t just booked by local families and local couples, but couples from all over the state - Columbia, Kansas City, and St. Louis, all planning one of their biggest events, in a venue between two rural towns in North Central Missouri. “This is something that we have thought about. If couples that are from out of town have a wonderful experience at our venue and in the community, who knows, they could return someday to raise their family,” stated Amelia and Steve.
Headed back to the venue in 2018 well after the Holders had several events, the interview this time looked to discuss what they’ve learned in the few short months of being open, other decisions they made, and with it being complete, decisions they made at the very end of construction. One of the biggest parts of Emerson Fields, is it’s bright white interior and exterior. Mrs. Holder discussed that having the venue splashed in white, it not only makes it a very good photographic atmosphere, but it also becomes easier for the customer to adjust the venue and to work with it the way they see fit. While walking throughout the place, the Holders revealed the impact that advice from local businesses had on their decision of the final touches. One particular instance was in the kitchen. With wedding receptions most often catering into the venue, the Holders reached out to Lois and Sonny Noland of Noland's Catering to discuss the desires that one who would cater, would like to have, to make their experience at the venue a good one as well. Sonny Noland offered to the Holders the aspect of having a lot of free counter space, a side entrance that they can easily access without interrupting the event in the main room, and industrial amenities that would make it easy to finish any cooking that needed to be done and cleaning that needed to happen after the event. During the rest of the interview, the Holders discussed about the business aspect of the venue being taxes, regulations, licenses etc. that they are still getting used to as new business owners. Emerson Fields offers a list of hotel options, catering options, and other service options that a wedding entourage would need during their stay. The Holders have not only brought business with their event center alone, but with other local business such as flower shops, grocery stores, hotels, and catering businesses in Macon and the surrounding area. While being interviewed, Amelia discussed that later that afternoon, a caterer from Columbia was traveling up to meet with them to offer samples of food that the caterer offers in hopes of the Holders adding him to their list of “we recommend” that they use when meeting with couples for the first time. Speaking to Steve Holder, one of the things that he enjoys looking back on everything is the hard work that him and his wife and others, put into making their dream, reality. “Every nail, every bead of sweat, and every second was worth it. Looking at the smiles and the memories being created by young couples and their families coming together on one of their biggest days in their entire life, and knowing that you are helping this happen, it all becomes worth it. It simply puts a smile on your face too,” stated Holder. One of the interesting and fascinating aspects of Emerson Fields is not only the building itself, but the land around it too. With weddings and receptions being held during the spring, summer, and early fall time, Emerson Fields also offers and “outside option” to customers and couples. Mrs. Holder discussed the fact that Emerson Fields does hold an outside place just east of the venue itself in the field, that couples can have an outdoor wedding. Holder revealed that they have had couples have the wedding ceremony on the outside patio attached to the west side of the venue, overlooking a pristine blue pond with a balcony/porch that extends out toward the pond. Amelia and Steve were asked, “What part do you play in this equation? Are you here in the venue during the wedding/reception?” The Holders responded, “Yes and no. We do check up on the couples and the event from time to time, to make sure that everything is going well and that they don’t need anything. But for the most part, we are in our house doing other things that might need to be done for the business, or simply relaxing. When our couples come to the venue for their open house, obviously we give a tour of the place, all that we offer, and more. We have a very close relationship with our customers throughout the entire process. We have all the tables, chairs, and the venue itself, set to the needs and desires of our customers, long before they arrive for their special day or their day of their reservation. We want everything to run smoothly and want to know that our part is done to the best of our ability,” stated Amelia and Steve. Toward the end, the Holders talked about what they learned the most so far as new business owners and plans they have for the future. “Plan, plan, plan. Use your time wisely. That is something that we’ve learned the most throughout all of this. You have to plan which helps you be prepared. We are now business owners that have a reputation. We want everything to go without a hitch and planning and being prepared, only helps everything.” Amelia talked about the future of her being a photographer and incorporating that into packages, events, etc. “We are very busy with running the venue itself. I do take pictures from time to time for business purposes and if couples ask me to. We have discussed about bringing my photography into it. That is something we have and will continue looking into,” stated Mrs. Holder. Mr. Holder also discussed about if the time comes, the ability to expand the venue, to add on, etc. “There is that option. At times we wished there was more space, and we have thought about where we could make some changes. One thing that we are wanting to continue improving on is the landscape around the venue, “ stated Steve Holder.
Recently Emerson Fields was picked as the “2019 Pick, The Knot best of Weddings," as one of the best wedding venues in Missouri - only after being opened in less than six months. Emerson Fields had 30 couples say “I do” in the first year and are already booking up with a few open weekends for 2019 and 2020 being filled as each day passes. Some reviews of the venue are:
“I was a made of honor in a wedding here this weekend, and I was beyond impressed. The venue owners were helpful and accommodating, but not overbearing. My job was easier because they have thought of so many tiny details to make everything run smoothly. The venue was gorgeous and the people are wonderful. I would HIGHLY recommend this venue to anyone!”
“Amelia and Steve are the best! Their place is amazing and they are amazing! Ashley and Ethan’s wedding was so magical and all of Ashley's vision came to life! Ashley and Ethan wanted to be married on the dock and the walkway was added to our surprise before their wedding! As Mother of the Bride I was so happy with everything! It was so nice to have it all in one place and to be able to have the whole weekend to set up and clean up! I cannot express how happy I am how with Emerson Fields. Thank you Amelia and Steve!!!!”
“My fiance and I took a tour of this venue (before it was even finished!), and immediately determined that it was the right fit for us. Simplicity and personalization are what set this venue apart from others. There are multiple options for how to host the ceremony and reception in one location. Further, you can use outside vendors for food, drink, etc., allowing you to save money and make it exactly how you wish. Beyond this, Amelia and Steve, are fully invested in their business in order to make it the best experience for everyone. They are great people, and it has been a pleasure to get to know them. We look forward to our wedding in July 2019!”
In closing, as a writer and interviewing the Holders, I think that an interesting aspect of this entire story, is the relationship and marriage between Steve and Amelia. Not only being business owners together, but being a husband and wife, is something special. They both have endured and worked together through all of this, from pouring the first layers of concrete, to walking future couples through the venue during an open house, and to helping clean up after an event. During their interview, it showed the appreciation they have for one another. “Typically, you would have the framing carpenters and then the finishing carpenters. We happen to be both. I've said it before but it's worth repeating; we make a pretty good team,” stated the Holders.
"Your event or wedding day celebration will be given our ALL and we count it a privilege and a blessing! We look forward to meeting you!" - The Holders
Note: There are several pictures that we took and are featured in the gallery of this article. Pictures that show the difference between the September 2017 Interview and the September 2018 Interview. We encourage anyone to visit the website of Emerson Fields for more details and pictures of the story and the venue that calls Macon County, home.
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