At 8:00am on November 1, The Barn III Dinner Theatre in Goodfield eagerly launched its reservation webpage for the first time since the coronavirus cancelled its 2020 season. Finally, they were ready to host customers indoors once again. By 3:00 that afternoon, however, indoor dining was once again deemed off-limits due to the spike in COVID-19 cases. “All I could think was, there must be a light at the end of this tunnel,” reflects owner Abby Reel.
After hosting their last performance in March, Reel and her team spent most of the year offering curbside pick-up, contacting customers and updating their 2020 schedule. They overhauled the kitchen and front of house, revamped the floor plan and added an outdoor patio, among other measures. “I wanted to be sure there were no barriers in welcoming our customers back,” she explains.
Over the summer, Reel tore a ligament in her knee while changing a lightbulb at the Barn, prompting an extensive surgery and recovery. This experience slowed her down and forced some deeper reflection. “And that’s when it hit me,” she recalls. “The Barn would do everything in its power to offer hope this Christmas—to remind everyone there is light at the end of this tunnel.” Her answer: “lots and lots more light bulbs!” Over 3,000 to be exact.
Reel’s “light bulb” moment for a Christmas-themed light show created a whirlwind of meetings and phone calls as she sought collaborators to bring her vision to life. They included LKM Landscaping in Bloomington-Normal, lighting guru David Henry of LearnChristmasLighting.com, and a host of community supporters, including Morton Community Bank, Gordon and Jean Ann Honegger, Eureka Christian Church, Clemens and Associates, and Sharon and John Amdall.
Since installation began in October, Reel has been working to sequence a playlist of songs to the moving lights on the Barn and silo. “I know that once folks pull into the parking lot, tune their radio to 103.1 and hear Mary Simon’s voice, they will smile,” she explains.
While the Christmas Barn experience is unable to offer indoor dining, guests can enjoy curbside pickup while taking in the free light show every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5 to 9pm. The Barn will also be selling fresh-cut Christmas trees and a host of crafts and collectibles. It may not be a traditional Christmas at the Barn, but it will be safe and memorable nonetheless. thebarniii.com PM