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This barn's a blast

New B&B, museum and wedding venue, Barnacopia, highlights ag history

Published: Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Gary Bocker points out some aspects of the main area and talks about what went into the building of Barnacopia in rural Polo. In August, Bocker will use the three-story structure to host weddings, receptions and other events.
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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Gary Bocker's first tractor, a 1946 Ford, is proudly displayed under glass at the entrance to Barnacopia. Bocker built the barn, in part, to house all his antique tractors.
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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
The banquet area can hold as many as 350 people.
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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Tractors everywhere! Hanging from the highest part of the ceiling, a John Deere rotates. "One of the reasons I did this," Gary Bocker said of Barnacopia, "is because I wanted my grandkids to see how farming used to be."
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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
A stairway winds around the inside of the silo, leading to a couple of bedrooms and a library.
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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
The second floor displays vehicles that are special to the Bocker family.
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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Included in Bocker's Barnacopia is this replica of Mason Street in downtown Polo.
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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Barnacopia is located at 10662 Illinois Route 64 W. about 7 miles north of Polo.

POLO – When you walk inside Barnacopia, before you get to the old-time diner or the replica downtown Polo or the bed and breakfast in the silo, you walk over the first tractor Gary Bocker ever rode.

The red and white 1946 Ford is set into the floor, underneath glass, and looks as if it never spent a day in the fields. It's just one of the many pieces of family history Bocker, 68, has in Barnacopia, the barn he started building 20 months ago for weddings, receptions and other events.

But there’s plenty of local and farming history to go along with the family history, which includes his 66-year old wife Judy’s first car, a red 1962 Corvair.

High on the rafters on the third floor is an old bell from a schoolhouse, which used to be on Westbranch Road, just a few miles from Barnacopia, which sits next to the Bockers' home on state Route 64, about 7 miles north of Polo.

He built the barn, in part, to house all his antique tractors, which include a John Deere 730, the last two-cylinder model tractor the company made, and a tractor from the first 10 series the company ever made, which was a six-cylinder.

“One of the reasons I did this is because I wanted my grandkids to see how farming used to be,” Bocker said while walking among the eight tractors on the first floor.

In addition to the tractors, the first floor has the seating area, bathrooms designed to look like downtown Polo, and the kitchen, which serves ice cream, the only food it's licensed to serve, although people renting the venue can have caterers come in and use the kitchen.

A walk up the stairs, or a ride in the elevator inside a silo, takes you to the second floor, where there’s a movie theater, a chapel and among the nearly eight cars, an old state trooper patrol vehicle.

"It was just going to be a barn to show people stuff," Bocker said. "About halfway through we saw how much money we were spending, and (then) we put a bed and breakfast in."

Bed and breakfast and event rates haven't been set, Bocker said.

The third floor has the game room, which includes a John Deere pool table, and the best view the 18-foot fan on the barn’s ceiling.

There are two rooms in the bed and breakfast, which is in a silo next to the barn. The top floor of the silo, which is one of the unfinished aspects left, will be a library, Bocker said.

To attend

The Bockers are having a Barnacopia open house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 22 at 2570 N. Westbranch Road in Polo. All are invited to check out the unique venue and enjoy some ice cream.

To make a reservation at the bed and breakfast, to book the barn for an event or for more information, call 815-238-1474, 815-238-5487or 815-946-2500, go to barnacpioa.com or find it on Facebook.

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