Last summer was a big year for Arranmore Farm and Polo Club. Since 1999, the 300-acre plot of land in Oswego was a private playing fi eld for the sport of polo. But in 2015, the Greene family opened up the land to the public for the fi rst time, o ering an on-the-lawn concert series (similar to Ravinia) and full buyouts for weddings and other special events held from May to October.
“It’s a cool blank canvas for people who want to do something different,” says Shannon Greene Robb. Her father, John, purchased the land 17 years ago after a long career as a polo player and club owner, and the family looks forward to a future of providing a unique event destination.
“It’s a rare place,” says on-site Event Coordinator Jenin Paradise, calling it “very exciting” to be open to groups in Chicagoland that may not be used to seeing a farm so close to the city—Arranmore is roughly 50 miles away from downtown Chicago.
Guests can mingle in the horse barn, historic farmhouse or an intimate gathering space around an Argentinian asado. High-peak tents also offer a view of the whole breadth of the property, including polo players practicing in the distance.
“You really can create your own energy here,” says Greene of the full-service facility, noting there’s no true max for attendees with such a huge plot and open-air concept.
The serenity (and manicured fields that “look like carpet”) convinced Darcie Purcell to hold her event, the Soul LOVE Fest, at Arranmore this September. The 2,000 attendees will be able to nourish their souls with yoga and meditation on the fields without worrying about annoying grass clippings sticking to their feet, Purcell says.
The hands-on planning assistance from Paradise and her team was also invaluable to Nerissa Bonet, who organized a 40th anniversary celebration for Spring-Green Lawn Care in August. The employee and family festival had tons of food (provided by local vendors that Arranmore works with) as well as entertainment, including a petting zoo, performers, rock climbing, even tethered rides on the company’s hot air balloon. “I honestly didn’t think we’d be able to have as many activities [on public property],” says Bonet, nor “the controlled access.”
Yet, Arranmore isn’t the only reason to visit Oswego and nearby Plainfield. Here are more ideas for how to meet, taste and play out west.
This new venue—in an old warehouse in Plainfield—is “visually appealing and a little more exciting than your basic conference room,” says Cerena Kovanda, who owns the space with her family. The raw, 4,000-square-foot venue offers many points of interest, including a gallery wall of 12 vintage motorcycles, rolling glass doors that open to a 2,000-square-foot courtyard complete with fire pits and a 1958 Airstream-turnedlounge that’s a unique spot for breakout sessions. Planners are able to use their choice of caterers and A/V providers to “create their own space,” says Kovanda. The warehouse can comfortably host 150 guests seated or 200 standing.
Also check out: Emerson Pottery and Tea Room, Gaylord House & Gardens, Northfork Farm
Werk Force Brewing
Tap into the craft beer craze at this small “nano brewery” located inside Chicago Brew Werks Homebrewing Supply Shop, which accommodates up to 50 guests for tastings and tours. Co-owner Amanda Wright calls the operation “experimental” and says, “Employees are really active in the brewing process, so we’re able to offer a different spin on your average brewery tour.” Guests can see all the ingredients that go into making beer while also enjoying some at the bar. As well, private events are held on weekdays and weekends after closing time.
Also check out: Fox Valley Winery, Tailwinds Distilling, Tap House Grill, Capri Sogno
When you need a break from meetings, take a group ride along the scenic Fox River Trail, which stretches more than 40 miles north to the Wisconsin border. Bring your own bicycle or rent from Oswego Cyclery, which accommodates small groups and also leads group rides; the more adventurous bikers can head out to the nearby See Wee Kee Park for some technical, single-track mountain biking. Both the trail and park also offer excellent hiking and walking opportunities.
Also check out: Fox Bend Golf Course, Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Nature Preserve