Beautiful Barn Venue – A gathering place in Candor

story and photos by Cindy Ruggieri

For Sarah Edwards, it’s been a long and winding road that led her to the Beautiful Barn venue in Candor. 

Her journey started back when she was a single mother with three small children, trying to make ends meet and looking for a way to earn some extra income. When the fixer-upper house next door to her came up for sale she bought it, thinking she could turn it into a rental. “I could see the potential and knew what I wanted it to look like, but I didn’t know how to do it by myself,” Edwards said.

But that didn’t stop her from moving forward. With every contractor she hired to do some work, she watched and asked them to teach her what they were doing. And she learned. She also realized she loved the work and wanted to continue renovation work, a rather unusual choice for a woman. The next fixer-upper she bought she was able to do a lot of the work herself.  She smiles now as she talks about those days. “It could get a little crazy and there were times I had to drag the kids with me to finish a job, but looking back it somehow worked.”  

Edwards continued to make a name for herself, and eventually was hired by other contractors, until she ventured out on her own. “There were some lean times while I was trying to build my business, but then something would come up to fill the gap.” 

With her business named Just Sarah, she continued to grow as a general contractor. “I never really advertised; it was word of mouth that would help land the next job.”  

She got a big boost to her business when she won the contract for three houses in Binghamton, part of a grant program to revitalize blighted properties in Binghamton. Edwards not only rebuilt the houses – she built skills for the unemployed and pride in the community. “I hired unemployed folks from the local neighborhoods, and just like the contractors who taught me, I taught them the necessary skills to get the job done.” 

Edwards met her now-fiancé Rodney Dyer, also a general contractor, when they worked together on multiple job sites. It was pure luck when they spotted the “For Sale” sign as they were driving along Anderson Hill Road in Candor. “I had always wanted to renovate a barn, and this one called to me,” Edwards said. 

A few months later, Edwards and Dyer were the owners of the property, which included the house, 22 acres and the 10,000-square-foot dilapidated barn. “We knew that we wanted to make the barn into some kind of community gathering place, but we hadn’t quite decided exactly what that would be,” Edwards explained.

It was a conversation with her sister-in-law Teresa that provided the inspiration when she gave them the idea to make it into a wedding venue. That became their plan, but they knew it would be a while before they were able to find the time to make it happen. 

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. With work slowed down and lockdowns in place, it was the perfect time to make their plan a reality. Edwards and Dyer cleared the barn of the years of debris left behind, where they found some antique pieces to be used in their décor. With multiple levels to work with, the rooms were designed to include the reception hall, bridal suite, groomsmen lounge, restrooms and a few separate areas for smaller functions. Edwards and Dyer searched for the antiques to fit the rooms, such as the two stained glass windows above the reception hall and some antique furniture pieces. “Folks started dropping off pieces for me to use in the décor,” she said. “They no longer needed them but wanted them put to good use. I could not have achieved the charm of the sitting areas if I had gone out and bought all brand-new pieces.” She has always had a vision for making all the different parts come together and it shows. It’s no small feat in a huge renovation such as this.  

And the bridal suite is ultra-chic and ultra-modern, with a fully equipped kitchen and a comfortable living room and bedroom. The couple added a large deck, hiking trails to explore the outdoors sand nine glamping cabins on the grounds below the barn to accommodate overnight guests.  It is a combination of modern living with rustic charm, and a year-round venue that can accommodate everything from large weddings to smaller parties for any event. 

“We still take on the occasional general contracting jobs, but we are now semi-retired from that business and focused on our Beautiful Barn Venue,” Edwards said.

Edwards and Dyer have a list of thing they still plan to do in the barn and on the property, proving they are not yet done with the building and remodeling that got them here.

Just Sarah has come a long way from buying that first fixer-upper next door. The Beautiful Barn Venue is the result of all that can be accomplished when perseverance and vision come together.  

For more information and to arrange a tour, visit 

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