When Tina Hendricks and her husband Jimmy were looking for a rustic waterfront venue to host a celebration for their 15th wedding anniversary, they weren’t finding many options in the midcoast area.
Now, they’re building one. It’s not just for their own family to use, but a place for others to celebrate life’s special moments as well.
The venue, Salt Water Fields, is taking shape on family-owned land in South Thomaston, where rolling fields meet the estuary of the St. George River.
In nearby Owls Head, another couple is hoping to soon be able to host events like weddings at their farm, pending town approval.
The new venues will add options for couples looking to get married in a part of the midcoast that has relatively few spaces to choose from, according to Camden-based wedding planner Jessica Riley.
“I really think that couples will come up to see them,” Riley said. “I think there is a really big market in the area for a space for people to get married.”
Salt Water Fields, which will feature a 55-by-85 foot barn, is slated to be open to host events by early 2022, according to Tina Hendricks. The barn is scheduled to be raised in November. However, even without a structure to walk through, Hendricks said she’s seen ample interest from couples looking to reserve the space.
She said she receives about three to four calls a week, though the venue isn’t accepting deposits until the barn is raised later this fall.
“I didn’t even know how underserved the area was. I had no idea. We have not done an ounce of advertising and I already have a handful of weddings in the books for next year,” Hendricks said.
Jeff Woodman and his wife Christina, of Owls Head, are not yet advertising or taking reservations for events at their property Ash Point Farm, since they are still awaiting a permit from the town. Last month Owls Head residents voted to allow properties like Ash Point Farm to host commercial events, such as weddings. Woodman said they are hopeful they will get their permit this fall and can begin booking events for next year.
Woodman, who owns a local lobster company, said they purchased the 37-acre property, which includes a large main house, barn, farm animals and a sprawling lawn that overlooks Rockland Harbor, with the intent of hosting events. He felt there was a lack of options for wedding venues in the area.
“You start to talk to people and you realize there is really nowhere to go,” Woodman said. “We’re basically filling a need.”
Riley said the midcoast area has some established wedding venues, like the Samoset Resort in Rockport and the Whitehall Inn in Camden, but the recent closure of Point Lookout ― where she previously worked as a wedding coordinator ― has taken a popular option out of the mix.
She also said there is a growing interest in having weddings on the coast, but with a rustic element like a barn.
This was exactly the type of setting that the Hendricks were looking for when it was time to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary.
“When [we were] looking for a barn on the ocean, there was nothing, it was nonexistent,” Tina Hendricks said. “We just realized that it would be ridiculous for us to go somewhere when we had the idea to create something of our own and the land to do so.”
The couple lives in Freeport, but Hendricks’ husband grew up in the Rockland area. The land that they’re building Salt Water Fields on has been in his family for over 60 years, and has been used for growing hay.
Both Hendricks and Woodman said in addition to weddings, their spaces could also be used for other types of events, like family or class reunions. And while both venues are going to be catering to a similar audience, they’re not worried about competing with each other.
“We’re in this business because we want people to be able to celebrate their love,” Hendricks said. “There can never be enough places like that.”