‘Flood Of Support’

CASSADAGA – It began as a beacon for youth programs to find their way through the hurdles of financial setbacks, so the children did not have to miss out.

At a recent Cassadaga Village Board meeting, Frisbee Road resident Barry Wilcox complained about The RED House making too much noise during its events.

The RED House owner Steve Wickmark addressed this complaint after he received a “flood of support” from his neighbors.

“We need to be good neighbors,” Wickmark said. “When the story came out I had neighbors coming to me telling me I do a good thing here and they don’t have a problem with my business. It was very gratifying.”

Wickmark explained his passion about The RED House and what it means to the community. When he and his wife, Nancy, came back to Cassadaga from Seattle, Wash., they had an idea to help out the local youth programs with fundraisers, organizational meetings and a place to have training situations.

“It started as a social entrepreneur experiment. Instead of just talking about the issues with youth programs’ lack of funding, we decided to try and do something about it,” he said. “When I moved back here I wanted to help support youth programs in a business manner.”

Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and various other youth organizations have benefited from Wickmarks’ idea.

“When the economy is not doing well the first to get hit are the youth organizations,” he said. “We make our property available for a very low cost.”

Every cent the Wickmarks make on weddings and other events goes back into the community. They only use local businesses for maintenance, catering and other services as needed. Shurfine often offers free pizza during the youth organizational meetings.

Three years ago, people started asking to use the rustic barn for their weddings. Wickmark said those he rents to understand there is to be no noise after 11 p.m.

Wilcox had mentioned in the meeting The RED House usually has noise going right through to the wee hours of the morning.

“We don’t allow overnight use for this reason; we want to be good neighbors and keep the noise down,” Wickmark said. “We tell them the music goes off at 11 p.m. and the music goes off. We weren’t aware of the music playing until 2 a.m. and don’t think it happened.”

Wickmark also pointed out Wilcox’s property is not very close to his, and The RED House does not own lake property. Those who own the lake property give him permission to allow people to get wedding photos taken by the lake, if they wish.

“All our revenue goes back to the youth, which is the whole point of what we started here,” he said. “We didn’t anticipate up to 25 weddings a year when we started doing them, but we try to minimize the impact it has on the community.”

Wickmark confirmed they are booked for weddings this summer and next summer.

The biggest benefit event at The RED House is for the Cassadaga Lakes Association, which usually goes on all weekend, and has up to 90 people at a barn dance late into the evening. This doesn’t happen until around Halloween.

“We are very proud of what we have done for the community,” Wickmark said. “People like what we do here. There is a lot of history here. People grew up here. This is a really interesting piece of property.

“I just hope the community knows we are not insensitive people who came here to destroy the neighborhood,” he continued. “We felt really welcome when we came back home and started this business.”

Wickmark concluded by saying this is his way of giving back to the community he and his wife grew up in.

“Hopefully we are a good role model for people to do this, too,” he said. “The community gets a lot happier when lots of good people are doing good things.”

The best way to contact the Wickmarks is through their website the-red-house.org. The RED House is located at 91 Frisbee Road in Cassadaga.