Smithfield Herald

March 24, 2014

This ‘Farm’ welcomes visitors

Johnston County has a new venue for large concerts and events. The Farm opened last October in Selma, and its first concert season is just starting.

Johnston County has a new venue for events, including large concerts.

The Farm opened last October, but its first concert season is just starting. Located off of Interstate 95 near Selma, The Farm can hold roughly 420 people inside and about 10,000 in the field in front of the outdoor stage.

Trent Lassiter, 26, built the banquet hall and concert space on his family’s farmland. “I grew up right across the road from it and have lived here my whole life,” he said. “This is home for me.”

From the outside, the venue looks like it could be a large barn. But the patio with fire pit and strings of lights running from wall to roof show the place is for parties. Inside, the main room is huge, with a projector in the front and high ceilings capped with a skylight. Walking inside gives the faint smell of wood, and strings of lights crisscross the ceiling.

In the back are dressing rooms for wedding parties and other fashionable events. Rooms for preparing food line the main hall. Out back is the stage.

The large stage looks out onto acres of farmland. Lassiter said the area can easily hold 10,000 people.

A big music fan, Lassiter loves concerts. One evening while eating dinner with a friend, he sketched out a concert lineup on the back of a napkin and then decided to make it happen. That was in the spring of 2012. That September, he hosted the first Farm Fest, bringing a stage, bathrooms and food vendors to the farmland.

Around the same time, many of his friends started getting married and were talking about party venues. Lassiter is also a member of Johnston County Ducks Unlimited, which was seeking a new venue for its annual banquet.

Lassiter looked at those need and decided to fill them. “We have other venues in the county but nothing that holds that amount of people that we can hold,” he said.

Lassiter started construction in 2013 and finished just in time for Farm Fest 2013 last October. Already, almost 20 weddings have been booked, and Lassiter also has scheduled two concerts: Beach Fest on April 5 and Scott McCreery on May 31. He’s in the process of booking more shows for the summer.

“It’s pretty cool planning an event on my land here, on my farm, and seeing 28 different states coming to our area,” he said, referring to ticket sales for the concerts.

People from Johnston County, North Carolina and across country will be traveling to Selma for entertainment. “That’s what excited me more than anything, knowing we have such a big impact here,” Lassiter said.

He hopes those visitors will stay in local hotels, eat out, shop and come back to visit another time.

Lassiter, whose day job is at Springhill Outfitter, graduated from Mount Olive College in 2009 with a degree in business management.

He has one staff member, Anna Evans, who books the venue. “It’s great for the entire county because it’s going to help revenue and small-business owners,” she said. “Of course, we’re going to push shop local, shop Smithfield and the outlets and all that area, so I think it’s really good for just the entire community.”

Linda Lassiter, Trent Lassiter’s mom, said the family farm belonged originally to Trent’s grandfather. “I really feel like if his grandfather was here, he would be proud to see what he has done with it,” she said.

As for next steps, Lassiter said someone recently told him, “You guys are big.” But that’s not how he sees it: “I said no, we’re not big. We’re getting bigger. We’re not big yet.

“And that’s the truth. We still have room to grow.”

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