Photo by Jeannine Lombardo Photography
With group gatherings on hold as part of social distancing, couples are rescheduling and rethinking wedding planning for 2020 and beyond. Uncertainty regarding the economy and future regulations will, according to experts, likely create demand for smaller, low-key weddings, perfect for the Hudson Valley’s many outdoor venues, or even a scenic backyard.
That’s where Upstate Jamboree comes in. The company, based in the Catskills, provides hand-crafted, old-fashioned lawn and table games for weddings and events, starting at a relatively low cost.
“We create a gaming experience designed to bring people together through fun games like cornhole, bocce, and signature table games inspired by old-world Europe,” says co-owner Bea Rue, who runs the company with her fiancé, Tyler Mason. “We call it old-world arcade.”
Using sustainably harvested wood, Mason designs and builds one-of-a-kind games by hand, incorporating elements from Moorish architecture. It all started when a friend asked Mason, a skilled woodworker with a background in carpentry, to design a cornhole set for her wedding’s cocktail hour.
“People loved it,” Mason says. “While playing, we had the chance to meet people we wouldn’t have mingled with otherwise. Weeks later, we were brainstorming how I could use my carpentry skills more creatively and the business idea came about.” Mason designed and built the games, while Rue, who had a background in communications, web design, and marketing, took on branding and outreach. “Upstate Jamboree really encapsulates all our combined skills,” Mason says.
“Who would’ve thought those skills would lead us to become part-time wedding carnies,” Rue laughs.
Upstate Jamboree creates an experiential space at weddings, corporate events, and parties. “Clients don’t worry about a thing. We set up the space, reset games, and offer tips, then break down the event.”
A variety of all-inclusive rental packages start at $900. “According to WeddingWire.com, in comparison to the national average cost of hiring a live wedding band, our prices are actually more affordable,” Rue says.
“The games are a nice break from dancing, or perfect for people who don’t dance,” Mason adds. “It’s a unique service to help guests relax, meet other people, and just have fun.”