They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but seeing a picture of Camp Creek Farm doesn’t do it justice. You have to see it for yourself to fully appreciate the beauty, the tranquility and the feeling that you have entered a magical place.
Located on the outskirts of Preston, Camp Creek Farm has been an ongoing project for owners, Mike and Cindy Tomashek since October 1997. Their “labor of love” has resulted in a spectacular venue for weddings, corporate events, retreats, picnics, small and intimate gatherings and larger parties for up to 175 guests.
What started as a place to “fixup” for family and friends, became a passion, especially for Mike. “I grew up in Winona and had been looking for a place for about five years,” Mike said. “During MEA weekend in 1997, I saw this farm for sale just east of Preston. I fell in love with it, even though it was in shambles. I went and got the kids and Cindy to show them. Let’s just say their enthusiasm was not quite as strong as mine.”
Cindy said, “We thought he was crazy. The kids wondered what had gotten into their dad and mentioned something about normal people buy a cabin up north, not an old farm that’s falling down. But Mike was excited and saw the possibilities. I had to admit the view of the rolling hills and stream were amazing…the rest, not so much.”
Despite the neglected condition of the 108-acre property, Mike’s conviction that it could be a great hunting/fishing property grew. From its uninhabitable beginnings (except for a variety of critters), it has been transformed into welcoming spaces — from the vintage 1910 farm house, to magnificent gardens, to the century-old remodeled hay barn, complemented by the 2,400-square foot event center. All this is adjacent to the bike trail and on a beautiful trout stream!
“It’s difficult to describe what went into making this what it is today,” Mike said. “We removed 22 big tree stumps, downed power lines, the silo, two galvanized grain bins. We cleaned up the old farm house enough to use as a shelter and then remodeled it in 2000 and continued on with the barn.”
The barn took five years to create the special space it is today. They give their major contractor, Lynn Tienter, a lot credit for his ability to work with spaces that require creative solutions and having knowledge of old structures. With his help, they re-purposed the siding of our own barn and salvaged five local barns. Many local Amish men also worked on our project.
“The barn was appealing with its straight lines, although the roof was leaking and the main floor was rotted through on the east and west ends,” Mike said. “There was a large woodchuck den in the all-dirt lower level. While the peg and post construction and original limestone foundation were mostly intact, the lean-to on the south was sagging and ultimately gave way to the large deck we enjoy today.”
The main floor bar, wine racks, kitchen and bar cabinetry were designed with help from Cindy’s brother, Pat Peterson, then built by the millwork company he worked for. Talented friend, Dave Nelson, custom built the corner table on the main level and the console in the loft area from reclaimed barn wood.
Mike and friends Neil Cebell, Paul Mattson, Mike Smith built the decks. Their son, Josh, helped and made most of the railings along the catwalks and stairways. When major structural work was completed, Brad Steinbrink, another local craftsman, created exquisite features from the remaining reclaimed barn wood, including the pub counters in the lower level of the barn, window seating and custom doors.
“There wasn’t a blooming thing in the yard except thistle,” Cindy said. “There was a broken wind mill over the well with a gnarly boxelder growing up through it. My father took the boxelder down and it left a huge hole that needed a lot of soil to backfill. It looked like an excuse to plant something, so it became a garden…this is where my passion kicked in!”
In 2012, Mike and Cindy’s daughter got engaged and asked if the wedding could be held at the farm the following year. “That really set things in motion,” Cindy said. “We worked on making the huge pole barn an event space. We had a back-up plan in case we couldn’t finish it. There was a lot of snow that spring and we weren’t sure how we’d do a wedding, but the sun came out on May 18 and it was a beautiful day.”
Mike and Cindy are ready to share the special spaces that have delighted their family and friends and look forward to welcoming you to Camp Creek Farm! Call (507) 722-0048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for pricing and to book a date.