By Travis Mounts
OATVILLE – The Wichita Union Stockyards are now open in the Oatville area on southwest Wichita’s edge, located just a few minutes from both Haysville and Schulte.
Mike Andra, who owns the event center with his wife, Tina, is glad to see the Stockyards up and running after more than a year of delays. They received their certificate of occupancy on Friday, Dec. 13, and Andra said the Friday the 13th theme seems to have fit with some of the challenges they’ve faced during construction.
The first event was held on Dec. 14, when the Stockyards hosted the band Whiskey River, and Andra said it far exceeded his dream for the opening.
“We expected a couple hundred people and we got 700. We had an over-the-top soft opening, if you can call it ‘soft,’” he said. Another 450 people turned out for their New Year’s Eve event.
Wichita Union Stockyards is open 8 p.m. to midnight every Friday and Saturday that they don’t have a big event. There will be music from a DJ or live music.
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The 18,000-square-foot facility features a 3,000-square-foot dance floor that Andra says is the largest in the state. Cattle panels surround the dance floor. The timber frame structure took extra time to put together. Restrooms feature granite and hammered copper sinks.
“It’s rustic, but it’s classy rustic,” Andra said. “It looks like a 300-year-old barn inside.”
While it looks like an old barn, it has modern efficiency – so much so, that Andra said they haven’t had to run the heat.
The place is building a following rather quickly, he added.
“We’ve been seeing 40-50 new faces every time,” he said. It helps that the Andras own KWLS Radio, giving them plenty of advertising opportunity for their newest venture.
“The crowds have been really good and respectful. We have old school country dancing that hasn’t been available for years,” he said. “When you’ve got 20,000 ears listening to you, it helps make you pretty successful.”
The delays were frustrating, he said.
“I knew what my vision was. The people I brought to the plate were outstanding, but it was the people I didn’t know,” he said. That meant parts of the project had to be redone, but Andra said he made sure that in the end the project was done right.
A future phase includes a meat market mesquite grill cookhouse. The plan is to market their own cattle, with smaller animals. The results would be smaller, more healthy portions.A cook barn will be constructed just to the southeast of the main barn. The Andras plan to have the cookhouse open only on Saturday nights. Construction could begin in September, and would only take a couple of months to build.
There also is a plan to offer a Saturday morning farmers market in the spring and summer months.
Wichita Union Stockyards is located at 6425 W. MacArthur in the Oatville area.