Marla Rae is not just an artist; she is a woman who wears many hats. Over 20 years ago she and her husband Brian founded the Barn Festival, a unique shopping experience out in the country on their property. The Barn Festival has grown into an event they host in May and September each year, bringing tens of thousands of customers out on a dirt road, surrounded by corn fields, to shop over 150 vendors’ unique wares from across the country. Marla has been in the gift industry for 30 years, always working from home...which just happens to be the upper two levels of a 1930 Sears and Roebucks Barn.  In 2011, after selling an international candle company that her husband and her founded and grew for 12+ years before giving up to ‘simplify’ their lives, Marla started her career as an artist with publisher Penny Lane. The timing could not have been more perfect...something she likes to refer to as a “God thing”.  She is always thinking of what might be next, but hopes to continue with her art work for years to come, as that is what brings her the most enjoyment of all.  Recently, she started to teach String Art Classes once a month at her daughter Alyssa’s “Art Bar” in downtown Hastings, Nebraska. She calls it her social outlet. Each day for five days straight, 40+ students gather to enjoy a little art, fellowship with friends and a drink or two.

“I love my life!  I am so blessed and do not take a single day for granted. Each day is given as a gift, and it is up to us what we do with that gift. I am choosing to live my dreams, and am living life to its fullest”. Travel is important to Marla and Brian as well. They make sure they get away as often as possible to explore different cultures throughout the United States. “We hope to get our passports soon, but until then, we continue to enjoy our little trips from the east to west coast. We both grew up in rural Nebraska, just a few miles from each other. We live a simple life. It really doesn’t require much to completely enjoy ourselves...A bike ride on the bike trail through Hastings is as close to heaven as anything, as well as Taco Tuesday. That is pretty close to heaven too, according to Marla Rae.