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End of an Era: Hastings Barn Market ushers in new ownership

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 7:32 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - In 1994, Marla Anders thought it would be neat to start a barn festival south of Hastings at her home, but even she couldn’t predict just how successful the annual event would become.

Thousands of visitors pour in each year, coming to shop their home decor, crafts and boutique-related items. However, after this weekend, the event will go on under new ownership.

27 years of barns, vendors, delicious food and plenty of smiling faces for Marla Anders, but she didn’t know if it would last exactly that long. In fact, it appeared it was all going to end at the 24-year mark after she lost her husband Brian to cancer. Then came COVID-19 in the Spring of 2020, and the push to keep the event alive got stronger.

“We had a lot of vendors who were sitting with all this product and no place to go with it,” Anders said. “I thought gosh, I got all this - I haven’t sold it yet, so why not put on a barn event.”

And they did, by following all COVID protocols that came with it from the South Heartland District Health Department, and the run has continued over the last few years. Now, Anders’ run is coming to an end with a change in ownership for the first time in the history of the event.

Marla says she knows exactly what she wants to do afterward, and also....what not to do.

“I just don’t want to do anything,” Anders joked. “I have had so many responsibilities for so long, especially since my husband Brian passed away. I even like the idea of vegging out in front of the TV, watching home design shows, which I haven’t been able to do for a long, long time.”

So, she’s got one more weekend left to see the hoards of crowds south of Hastings on Marian Road, but she knows when that last customer leaves Sunday night, it will be a surreal feeling.

“I think there’s going to be a little bit of emotion involved because this is my home too,” Anders said. “We’ve lived in the upper two levels of the main barn ever since 1994 when we first started the barn events.”

As for what’s next for Marla, she says she will be purposefully lazy - who can blame her!

She did say she will still be continuing her passion for creating artwork, and while she wishes he could still be with her today, she feels her late husband Brian would support her in her next venture.

“He’s going to be so happy for me,” Anders said with a smile. “He really is because I think he always felt like I worked too hard, so he’s going to be just thrilled for me. Brian will be smiling down on the situation.”

If you’d like to attend the Barn Market this weekend, it will be open to the public from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Sunday.

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