Shivering through a wedding


There’s a big, round barn on a private farm at the outskirts of Nowthen, Minn. It was built in the early 1920s and was used as a dairy barn through the late 1930s. Since then it has been unused and neglected.

Feeding and milking stanchions are set in a circle in the lower level of the barn, while the upper structure served as a multi-level hayloft.

The Swedish immigrants who built this barn and others around Minnesota called them sparre barns. The word sparre simply means accommodation, and in Sweden is mostly applied to hotels and hostelries. I guess that means the barn was a hotel for cows.

My grandson bought the farm this past year and has already repaired holes in the roof and loft floor. Other jobs are on the to-do list. The structure is 60 feet wide and nearly as high, and is listed on the national historic registry.

And this was where he and his fiancé were married last weekend. It was spitting snow, and the temperature hovered around the freezing mark.

Along with traditional wedding decorations, the couple installed propane heaters around the loft floor. While they took the chill off, sort of, they roared and bellowed like the cows that once assembled there, and had to be shut down during the ceremony. By the time they got around to “kiss the bride,” everyone was shaking from the cold.

After an abbreviated rendition of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, the heaters were relit and the D.J. got to work on energetic tunes designed to warm the blood. The bar in the corner did its part as well.

Doing things in the cold is not unusual in Minnesota. If you wait for warm weather, you might never get anything done. Besides, this was a wedding. It could have been 20 degrees below zero for all the bride and groom cared.

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