Sara Fry is the amazing Mama behind 181 Ranch. If you have ever been to an event at 181 Ranch, you know how fun and organized these events are! Find out more about how Sara started holding events at her ranch and how she juggles being a mom of 2, running a ranch, and hosting amazing public and private events on her amazing property.
What led you to turn your ranch into an amazing event space?
I need to write a book on this one. Ha! The Ranch was NEVER intended to be an event venue. My dad built 181 Ranch, next door to our home, in 2004-2005, for horse training. It functioned like that (with a manager and barn full of horses) for over a decade. Pre-children, I spent several years as a wedding photographer. I then worked for a local car dealership. Part of my job was planning their events: customer appreciation banquets, holiday parties, company family events, women’s expos, etc. When I had my first child, I decided not to go back to work. Losing that income, we needed to make ends meet. We had the ranch, ponies, horses, and some other animals. So with the family that lived here at the time, I started doing kids birthday parties with the animals on the weekends. I had a friend ask if they could have their wedding at the barn, then we had a Kentucky Derby party for a local real estate group, and in December 2017 I had the first Christmas at The Ranch (it was just a couple hours long with 10 vendors and Santa)!! We were no longer training horses at that point, I had given birth to Van and wanted to move back home to the country. We moved to The Ranch, and I started to really see the potential and need for a space like this. In 2019-2020 we started taking steps to convert from an equine facility to a functional event space! Now, It’s just sort of taken on a life of its’ own and I can’t imagine our life without it!
How long have you lived in the Tulsa area?
I’ve pretty much lived here my entire life. I was born in Tulsa in 1987. We moved closer to OKC when I was young but came back to Tulsa at the end of my kindergarten year. I attended Union through 2nd grade and then we moved to Bixby, where I graduated in 2005.
How do you balance running an actual ranch, while also event planning and being a mom?
It is very very hard. Sometimes I think I do a terrible job at it. My husband is my hero and helps me constantly. He does so much here behind the scenes that no one ever sees or knows about. He primarily cares for the animals, does a lot of the cleaning, and most of the physical work. During big event weeks- he’s basically like a single dad managing the kids and house while I’m in the barn. Living where you work has its advantages in the sense that I can run in and out and switch between mom/wife and boss. Sometimes it runs really smooth and sometimes it’s chaos! But, we function really well as a team and I think that’s the only reason it works. My kids often get to participate in the bigger events, and they like being a part of it. It’ll be interesting to hear what they say when they’re adults… growing up at an event venue! But overall, things just ebb and flow. Sometimes we are really busy and sometimes we aren’t- so overall everything just balances out!
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
We’ve been blessed to have two kids! Vella is 10 and Van is 6.
What is your favorite family activity to do around Tulsa?
Honestly, we don’t do a whole lot around Tulsa because our weekends tend to be so full here at The Ranch. When they aren’t, we enjoy the downtime! We are homebodies and love spending our time here outside. It truly is our happy place.
If you had a day to yourself, without children or responsibilities, what would you do?
It would depend on the weather. Ha! And, if my husband was also child and responsibility free. I love being outside and live for warm sunny days. Probably enjoy a beer on a patio- or even my own patio- and just lay in the sun and listen to music. If it’s cold- curl up in my bed (with my golden doodles!) without my phone and just watch movies!
What is your favorite date night spot around Tulsa?
My husband and I love to eat at Red Rock in Jenks. We always say we are going to try something new but end up there. Can’t beat that Perfect Margarita!!
What is your favorite event that you hold at the ranch?
This is a hard one because we do a lot of fun and often unique stuff!! But, I feel like I have to say Christmas at The Ranch. It’s the original event that really contributed to our growth and putting all the wheels in motion for where we are now. It’s grown every year and it always just fills my heart with joy to watch it happen. The people that come, the vendors that have become like family, it’s just really really fun. It’s a tremendous amount of work that starts in February every year. I can’t believe we are already planning our 6th! Last year, we had a Swon Brothers concert. That’ll go down as one of my favorite things because I remember when I first had the idea, thinking how impossible it was… but it happened. And it felt pretty dang cool to pull it off.
What piece of advice would you give to another Mom who wants to pursue their small business dream?
Be good to people. Do the right thing. Be generous and help people when you can. Even if no one knows about it. This really isn’t “business” advice per se- but it’s something my own business has taught me in ways. I come across a lot of people and hear a lot of stories. I’ve been given opportunities to help or give back or just do something I didn’t have to do. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s inconvenient and sometimes it’s even expensive, but it’s always worth it. Every time. Also, don’t take yourself too seriously! Have fun, Stay humble, stay gracious, and take NOTHING for granted.
How do us Mamas find out when you’re having a public event? How would we find info about booking a private event?
Definitely follow us on Facebook and/or Instagram. I post there frequently and share to stories. I update the website occasionally with our upcoming events. If you’d like more info on a private event the best bet is to email me at [email protected]
I don’t have a staff, so any where you send a message or call- you’ll be talking to me!
Some of the public events 181 Ranch host are: Christmas at the Ranch, Rummage at the Ranch, All You Need is Love, and more! Keep an eye out for their next event, Country Roads (this looks like so much fun, I can’t wait to go!) on May 6th. You won’t want to miss it!
181 Ranch is also an amazing venue to rent out for private events! How amazing do these weddings look?!