Carrie Rengers

There’s a new barnyard and playground coming to the west side, but both are indoors

West Wichita is getting a new barnyard and playground, but neither is outdoors.

Barnyard Indoor Playground is an inside play area with a barnyard theme that’s designed especially for children 6 and younger.

“Ours is for little kids all the time,” says Chloe Stodle, who is opening the business with her wife, Lacey.

The Barnyard will be at 9428 W. Central where Blue Baboon Books used to be.

Chloe Stodle has been an elementary teacher for 10 years.

“I’m just kind of ready to get out of the classroom,” she says. “I still love working with kids.”

The Stodles have a 3-year-old daughter, Norah Jean, and there’s a character, Blippi, she watches on videos who helped inspire the new business.

Blippi regularly visits places, such as zoos, for fun and learning opportunities.

“I thought, well, why can’t I have my own play place?,” Chloe Stodle says. “And it just kind of all snowballed from there.”

There will be playground equipment with two slides, one for toddlers and one for slightly older children, and a ball pit and balance beam.

There also will be STEM and hands-on activities for teaching children a range of skills.

“I just want to try to reach kids in different ways,” Stodle says.

There also will be STEM activities for older siblings “so that they’re not left out.”

Also, she says, “We have a little mascot of our own called Hamilton the Barnyard Pig.”

Hamilton is available for parties and other visits.

There are three different birthday party packages at the space.

Initially, visits to the Barnyard will be individual payments, but Stodle says she’s considering monthly and yearly memberships.

The play is parent-supervised, though parents don’t have to pay.

Stodle is planning weekly themes and events, such as story time at 10 a.m. every Tuesday.

She says she in initially had “grand plans” for a space larger than this 2,000 square feet, but Stodle says this size makes more sense to begin.

“I think it’s a good way for us to start and get our name out there.”

Stephanie Wise of John T. Arnold Associates handled the deal.

Barnyard will be next to Kookaburra Coffee.

“They have offered to give discounts for any customer of ours to come over and get a cup of coffee,” Stodle says.

The Barnyard is opening Sept. 21 with free doughnuts and juice for kids and parents from 9 to 10 a.m. with the price of a child’s admission and an afternoon session with free hot dogs, chips and water from noon to 1 p.m.

Stodle says she and her wife have already been getting a lot of support from people who hear they’re opening the business.

“We’re a nontraditional family, if you will,” she says.

Stodle says she thinks that may help others feel comfortable that it is “a judgment-free zone.”

“They know it’s a fun and safe place.”

Stodle says she doesn’t know if there’s a chance Blippi would ever want to visit the Barnyard, but she says, “That would be really neat to think about.”

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