"My husband, who performs the weddings, kept snapping his fingers to get the groom's attention," laughed Pat Coffey, who owns Bear Mountain Log Cabins and Stables with her husband, George.
Horses are a part of daily life at Bear Mountain, and practically part of the family. Located on US 62 West just 15 minutes from town, Bear Mountain offers cabins for intimate, romantic getaways and family reunions; they also do an amazing amount of weddings, receptions, meetings and other events. Their event room offers more than 2,300 square feet of space, and is next to the stableyard, so cowgirl brides can have a couple of fine equine friends participate in the ceremony. The back wall even has two pull-out windows that open into stalls, just the perfect size for the horses to stick their heads through and face the wedding party during the ceremony. Trouble is, said Pat, sometimes the horses steal the show.
"They've really learned how to get attention, and everybody loves watching them, so we focus on getting people to look at the bride," she said. "Our horses don't know their working horses. They think they're 1,500-pound pets."
Still, the horses are popular choices as additions to the wedding, and are now the stars of their own special event: the Coffeys have started offering Dude Ranch Weekends, where families or groups can spend three to five days learning to care for horses, and getting a cowboy education. The twist? There's no bunkhouse here: the newbie dudes stay in a barn that's actually luxury log cabin lodging. The barn is set up like a lodge, with a common room containing a kitchen and stunning eight-foot-long cedar dining table. Each end of the barn is a completely tricked-out bedroom with entertainment center, Jacuzzi and even a separate entrance with a covered porch. The whole barn is decorated like one of the regular Bear Mountain cabins, with specially made log furniture and country home decorations.
"We want this to have a cowboy, yet country feel," said Pat. Indeed, if you didn't know any better, you'd think this is just the latest in gorgeous, luxury living. But the dudes coming in do know better, at least by the end of their stay. Each participant put in charge of a horse, and learns to take care of it from mane to tail. Although the work can be challenging, the participants get lots of perks as well, including daily trail rides, a canoe ride, and a massage to smooth out those sore muscles.
"It's very inclusive and upscale," said Pat. "but still a working ranch experience."
The dude ranch barn was just completed this year, and has been very popular so far, said Pat.
"We've been full on five out of seven weekends," she said. "and we're constantly getting inquiries about it."
The other cabins stay busy as well. Originally built as show homes for a log cabin construction business, each cabin is different, but all include big, comfortable furniture, Jacuzzis, lots of space, and kitchenettes or full kitchens. The patios and decks open out onto 30 acres of Ozark beauty, giving folks an unparalleled view of nature. The largest cabin, a stunning two-story building, has a light, airy feel but still retains a down-home, country atmosphere; the cabin can hold up to 12 people, making it perfect for a girl's weekend out or family gathering. Before any visitor's check-in, each cabin is decorated with fresh flowers, and stocked with all the fixings for a hearty breakfast.
For weddings and other events, Bear Mountain can handle up to 150 people, and catering is available. Most popular is the ranch-style dinner, a BBQ spread complete with potato salad, beans, corn, fruit and drinks. For kid's parties and other events, they also offer a hot dog machine, popcorn machine, and chocolate fountain.
Most people say that a business can't be all things to all people, but the Coffeys come very close out at Bear Mountain Log Cabins. For more info on events or lodging, call 800-805-8005 or visit www.bearmountaincabins.net.