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Old bar turns into new, cozy ‘Event 34’

The Event 34 building was most recently known as the Broken Wheel 3 bar, is located on the outskirts of Detroit Lakes. DL NEWSPAPERS/Paula Quam

It was old, rundown and vacant — the building that sits right along Highway 34 on the east side of Detroit Lakes most recently known as the Broken Wheel 3.

But for the past couple of years, there has been some sort of action in there. The porch was being fixed up, the siding replaced, the roof repaired.

Little by little somebody was fixing it up — but for what?

Mystery solved.

The old, deteriorating building that has slowly been transforming into a much homier, cozier abode is now called “Event 34.”

Festively decorated with green garland and bright red bows that drape across the newly painted white pillars of the porch, Event 34 is ready for hosting.

“I don’t think there’s an event that we couldn’t host there, unless it’s over 200 people,” said Sue Disse, who along with her husband, Tom, now owns the new event center.

It wasn’t exactly in the plans for the retired Detroit Lakes couple, but when they sold their storage units in town called Pad-Lock Stor-All two years ago, Tom found himself without a place to “putz.”

“He can’t just sit around — he needs a place to go and do something,” said Disse of her husband.

The couple thought the old building on Highway 34 would be a perfect shop for Tom, as the vacancy made the price right and the location nostalgic.

“We lived out there on Highway 34 for many years, so now we say we’re back on 34,” laughed Sue Disse.

But as Tom, who had built rental homes for many years, saw to it that the building received the external TLC, Sue and other family members were beginning to see some warmer potential.

Despite the leaking roof, half torn-down walls, old greasy kitchen and bathroom fixtures literally falling off the walls, there were visions of what could be.

“I had a birthday party out there, and we were all sitting around the fireplace visiting,” said Disse, “and it was all cozy, and some friends and family said, ‘You had better not turn this into a shop’”.

As Tom and his helpers began tackling the inside, the couple began re-thinking their plans and talking about making it into an event center.

“But we really wanted to make it into an affordable one, because it’s so expensive to rent some of these places around here,” said Disse, who says they began a competition among friends and family to come up with a name.

“The person who came up with what we thought was the best name would win a free event,” said Disse, adding that her daughter-in-law was the winner for her idea of “Event 34.”

After months upon months of renovations, the Disses now have their event center open for business.

They’ve already hosted a 50th wedding anniversary there, as well as a quilting retreat. They also have a wedding and a graduation on the books.

Although the Disses will be closing up shop for six weeks out of the year in the dead of winter, they are excited about being able to offer up a place for people to make memories for years to come.

A shiny, new epoxied pine bar, pined walls, fireplace and large, open space can now host anything from weddings to reunions to business meetings.

Rates vary according to time needed, but for an eight-hour day the entire facility, including a newly renovated, full kitchen, can be rented for $175.

A smaller room within the larger facility can also be independently rented for roughly half the price.

“That’s where we had like six tables and 10 quilters this past weekend,” said Disse, who says the couple still has plans to spruce up the property with some landscaping for outdoor events and to pave the parking lot.

And as the large project looming before them two years ago finally begins to wrap up for the most part, the Disses couldn’t be happier to start the next venture in their lives.

“It’s so exciting to stand there and look around at it, and although we think it’s beautiful, it makes me so proud to hear somebody else walk in and comment about how they can’t believe how it looks now,” said Disse, who says their logo will feature a tree.  The trunk, she says, represents her and Tom, the bottom branches their three children and the taller, extended branches represent their lives and the businesses they’ve built together.

“And it just keeps branching out as we do more things,” said Disse, “and so I hope that people will be able to celebrate a part of their trees in our new Highway 34 Event Center.”

For more information or to make a reservation, either find Event 34 on facebook or call 218-847-5265 or 218-841-9127 or email Sue and Tom Disse at

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes, Perham and Wadena, all in Minnesota.

(218) 844-1466