A spring networking event drew caterers, florists, and other vendors from across the state to Duck Puddle Campground in Nobleboro on Tuesday, May 16. While the event typically takes place at French’s Point in Stockton Springs, it moved to Nobleboro this year to feature the campground’s new event venue.
The owners of Duck Puddle Campground recently completed renovations to a 100-year-old red barn on the property to create The Lakeside Barn, a venue for weddings, anniversary parties, birthdays, and other gatherings.
Jim and Mary Grimes, of Carver, Mass., own Duck Puddle Campground with their daughter, Meredith Blakesley, and her husband, Paul Blakesley. Prior to purchasing the campground in 2003, the family had visited the campground each of the previous 25 years. During that time, the barn was in use as an arcade.
In 2007, the family decided to move the barn from the entrance of the campground to its current location for better accessibility for visitors, Jim Grimes said. The decision to turn the barn into an event center came a few years later.
“We wanted to give it some life,” Jim Grimes said. “We thought we would expand it and make it more serviceable, and I think we were successful.”
The cleaning and renovation of the barn took almost two years and included removing “graffiti” from visitors, converting a storage room into a bar, and renovating the loft. The family added a new set of French doors to the side of the barn, which lead to a new wooden deck built by Paul Blakesley, who works at Becker Construction Inc. in Nobleboro.
The Lakeside Barn has already hosted weddings and fundraisers, such as the JamoRama for Cancer, which raises money for the Joe Anduzzi Foundation for Cancer. Meredith Blakesley said the family hopes to host more community events, including benefits for Nobleboro Central School.
“We really want to support the community,” she said.
Jessika Brooks-Brewer, of Damariscotta, decided to move her annual spring networking event for the preferred vendors of French’s Point, the venue she owns in Stockton Springs, to The Lakeside Barn to help spread the word of the new venue.
“I met Meredith and Jim at an event last year, and I was struck by the life parallels we shared,” Brooks-Brewer said. “You want to root for their success.”
Preparation for the networking event got underway in March and wrapped up early the morning of the event when Paul Blakesley finished painting some of the trim on the back of the barn.
During the event, guests took a tour of the campground; including the Lakehouse, a rental overlooking Pemaquid Pond; the waterfront ceremony site; and the cabins available for guests to rent. After a lunch prepared by Harvest Moon Catering in Waldoboro, the networking event concluded with presentations about aspects of the wedding industry.
“It went very well,” Meredith Blakesley said. “We feel so honored that Jessika believed in us to have us host this, and we’d love to host more events with sponsored vendors in the future.”
The purpose of the networking event was two-fold, Brooks-Brewer said. Not only did the event introduce The Lakeside Barn to other vendors in the wedding industry, it also gave vendors an opportunity to share information and encourage one another.
“We’re not competitors, we’re peers, and we need to help each other,” Brooks-Brewer said. “A rising tide lifts all boats, and we should all work together to raise the industry in Maine.”