By Kaitlyn Wallace
Nestled in the heart of the tallgrass prairie just outside of Manhattan, Kansas, Prairiewood Retreat and Preserve provides a variety of unique and relaxing meeting and event spaces that are bound to enchant and awe attendees from all walks of life. With a mission of providing spaces to connect with nature, connect to others, and to reconnect to oneself, Prairiewood’s 400 acres of preserve and 5 miles of available hiking trails will melt away your stress and allow even the busiest events to proceed with calm and tranquility. As Karen Hibbard, Executive Director of Visit Manhattan expressed, “Prairiewood is right outside the city limits, but it feels like it’s a world away. It really allows you to step outside the busy corporate world and step into the heart of the Manhattan Prairie.”
Though Prairiewood’s mission centers around its connection with nature, it also provides a variety of state-of-the-art unique spaces guaranteed to put a special spin on any event. Across the Blue Sage Barn, the Retreat House, and Stonehouse, Prairiewood contains an art gallery, a full bar serving local and regional craft breweries, a fully operational catering kitchen, and more. So, too, does Prairiewood’s support staff and full-service continually impress; Abby Wempe, owner of Abby Wempe Weddings & Events, emphasized that “event planners should know that Rebecca [co-owner of Prairiewood, along with her husband, Kail] will take care of everything you need from top to bottom. Prairiewood is hands-down one of the most accommodating venues I work with.” Rebecca Motley, the owner and catering coordinator of Arrow Coffee Company, seconded this sentiment, saying that “the Prairiewood staff is attentive and detail-oriented, always paying special attention to their guests’ needs and desires… I can’t speak highly enough of this beautiful place and the energetic and committed staff who keep it well-maintained and running smoothly.”
Prairiewood has also proven to be uniquely suited to post-COVID cultural shifts of work-life balance and return to nature. Of her experience at Prairiewood, Rachel Motley described the following: “As a business owner myself, COVID has really served as a wake-up call to cultivate a better work-life balance for myself and my employees. We actually took a week off together in early June to reset, and Prairiewood was the first place I reached out to because I wanted my staff to experience it. We hiked the trails and ended with a sunset picnic and wine tasting with Aquim Vinos wines at Prairiewood’s Walnut Pond… Guests frequently comment on how easy it is to unplug and recharge at Prairiewood. That is exactly what we experienced while we were there– a collective deep breath.”
This experience is reflective of the very mission of Prairiewood. As owners Rebecca and Kail Katzenmeier explained: “As the world becomes more disconnected from self and community – even more pronounced during COVID – we aim to create a space that celebrates authentic, inspiring connection. We are committed to infusing wonder and joy into the events that take place at Prairiewood. This mission is also reflected in Prairiewood’s increasing emphasis on community-centered experiences as the world begins to transition back to in-person gatherings. In late March of 2021, Prairiewood began to offer free concerts from local musicians and artists, drawing droves of recently vaccinated citizens craving connection and safe, outdoor experiences. Prairiewood has also started to open its trails to the public once a week, allowing the surrounding community to experience the breathtaking beauty and natural calm of the tallgrass prairie.
As many industries struggle with the logistical and mental toll of transitioning back to in-person meetings and events, Prairiewood has stayed an isle of calm and natural peace for meetings and events. By emphasizing a return to community, nature, and genuine connection, Prairiewood has created a one-of-kind, healing experience for meetings and events. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax and recharge, or a place to create a uniquely inspiring creative space, Prairiewood is the venue for your next meeting or event.
Kaitlyn Wallace is contributing writer from St. Louis.