My alarm clock rang early this past Friday morning. I had purchased two early bird tickets to Bella Rustica in Pulaski, Tennesse and I meant to get there early. My friend Patty, who is by nature an early bird, and I hit the interstate and headed north. It was an easy drive… pretty much a straight shot from Cullman, Alabama. We would have been there by 8:00 am, probably first in line, had we not been chatting and missed our exit off the interstate. Thankfully we did not venture too far into Tennessee before we realized our gaffe. We took the next exit, turned tail, and got back on track. It was a gorgeous drive. Driving north into middle Tennesse always is. We could not have asked for better weather. An hour and a half after our departure and only a few minutes off course, we arrived at Milky Way Farms!
If you love antiques, vintage goods, and repurposed items, this was definitely the place to be. The organizers did an excellent job screening the vendors. The booths were all very well done. The merchandise offered was exactly as expected. A wide range of antique items and small furniture as well as a lot of creative goods made from salvage material. Even the local church ladies got creative by placing delicious cakes in jelly jars, labeling each jar with the cake name and even attaching a spoon to the jar with a piece of string. Yes, we had cake. Actually we had cake before lunch… this was a special occasion!
We made our way through the restored stone barn which was a beautiful sight in itself. We then ventured to the few outdoor booths and continued to ooh and awe over all the goods. We grabbed lunch which was also delicious! I’m a true foodie and am a really hard sell when it comes to eating out. I typically walk away from most meals proclaiming “I like mine better”. For me to proclaim something as being delicious is HUGE! I had a BBQ taco and it really was scrumptious. I had hoped to hang around for the workshops that were scheduled for later in the day but by noon the crowds had arrived, the dust and hay got the best of me, and I had to move on down the road. I was so disappointed that I did not get to sit in on the workshop as I’m sure it was wonderful!
Milky Way Farms was offering tours of the manor during Bella Rustica. We could not pass up the opportunity so before heading home we headed towards the manor. It is spectacular! The 25,00 square foot home, built in 1931-32 by Frank Mars, boasts 21 bedrooms and 14 baths. The architecture throughout the home was splendid. Arched doorways throughout. Iron gates inside the home leading to an incredible dining room that houses the largest known privately owned dining room table in the United States. The view from all rooms was breathtaking.
As incredible as the home was my favorite part of the tour were two stone cottages that sat within a stone’s throw from the manor. Each single room dwelling was built with the lay of the land. One of the cottages was curved on one side, the walls and ceiling within covered in bead board. The exposed rafters from within look new, giving hint to the idea that these beautiful buildings are being lovingly restored. I hope that is the case.
History records that this majestic farm was once home to 30 barns including the world famous “crooked sheep barn”. Most of them are no longer standing, the exception being the stone barn that hosted Bella Rustica this past weekend. As we were exiting the farm I had to stop and snap one last picture of this old barn. It is sad to see what used to be a grand dwelling, possibly for one of the thoroughbred horses this farm once housed, slowly deteriorating. As much as we love barn wood at Southern Accents, we would love nothing more than to see this barn restored to it’s original splendor.
If you happen to be within driving distance of Milky Way Farms, it is worth the trek to visit the manor and tour the grounds. You can visit their website for information on the farm, tours, and events.