Wheatland Timeline

1974

  • First Wheatland Music Festival (Wheatland Bluegrass Festival, one day event on August 24th at The Rhode Family Farm, just East of Remus, MI).  Benefit for the Mount Pleasant Food Co-op (now GreenTree Cooperative Grocery, Mt. Pleasant, MI)

1975

  • Board of Directors established (May 13th)
  • Articles of Incorporation filed as “Wheatland Music Organization” (May 29th)
  • First committees: Gate, Stage, Food, Campgrounds
  • Two-day festival moved to the Wernette farm
  • First Red Shirt Volunteers
  • First t-shirt sales

1976

  • Information tent was born: rented from the Beal City Knights of Colombus
  • Old-time, folk, country & gospel added
  • Community Education activities begin
  • The first Wheatland Stage built using wood and timbers from the 1883 Bauman/Wernette Farm barn

1977

  • Wheatland Bylaws are ratified/amended to become Wheatland Music Organization
  • Workshop tent added for instrument contests
  • Library program begins
  • Non-profit status is awarded
  • Wheatland record label created; first Wheatland Music Festival album is produced
  • Part-time compensated manager position begins

1978

  • First WMO Reunion is held at Central Michigan University
  • First Wheatland Label Albums produced – 001 Wheatland Festival, 002 Lost World String Band
  • First Wheatland Music Festival program is produced
  • First Juried Arts and Crafts
  • First children’s activities

1979

  • “Our Front Porch” radio show is developed by WCMU
  • WCMU and Wheatland partnership solidified and Wheatland helps to fund monthly Kiva concerts.  First concert: Red Clay Ramblers
  • Two new stages added:  Second Stage (contests, workshops and themes) and the Sand Pit Circle (instrument workshops and children’s activities)
  • New LPs produced: Dick Tarrier’s Songs for Kids (Wheatland 003) noted by the National Library Association as one of the nation’s best recordings for children, and 004 Wheatland 1978 Festival
  • First arts & crafts demonstrations: spinning, natural dyeing, silversmith, luthier and basket making
  • Costabella Cloggers make first appearance at Wheatland Music Festival
  • Public transporation first used at Wheatland Music Festival
  • Second Reunion held in April at CMU and recorded on videotape
  • CMU cable tv makes a documentary film
  • The WMO Album Label copyright was registered
  • First grant written to host The Folktellers at Wheatland Township Hall
  • First school and community programs with Living Folk and Dick Tarrier
  • Handicap parking established
  • 25 National Guard volunteers help with parking

1980

  • Daylong textile arts workshops held at Wheatland in March
  • Campgrounds named after some of the early Wheatland bands
  • First year of children’s activities on “Kids Hill”
  • Six albums are now on Wheatland’s Record Label – 005 Sally Rogers Unclaimed Pint and 006 Wheatland Festival
  • First grant was received to host a Community Education Program in October

1981

  • First WMO Newsletter is established
  • Fundraising event to establish a scholarship program featuring the Williams Family
  • Contests expanded at festival to include fiddle, banjo, mandolin and youth and adult clogging

1982

  • WCMU Begins taping the music festival
  • Demonstrations: Basketmakers, quilters, spinning, woodcarving, blacksmithing, weaving, instrument making
  • Utah Phillips tells Wheatland organizers “Bring to Wheatland the folks that folks need to hear.”
  • Building fundraiser “Sow the Wheat” continues to build a Music & Arts Center
  • First Kids Hill totem pole erected

1983

  • Land purchase: WMO puts $100 down on Gunnison Property
  • First “Hellos and Goodbyes” in Festival Program
  • WMO begins Old-Time Country dances in Mt Pleasant
  • Country Fair of Artists & Demonstrators at Wheatland Township Park, May 1983.  Over 500 students from local schools participated in activities and demonstrations
  • Wheatland sponsors first Michigan Traditional Music & Arts Conference
  • 5th season of Our Front Porch WCMU.  WCMU Our Front Porch syndicated statewide.

1984

  • Land contract signed to purchase 20 acres from Mark and Gladys Wernette
  • Building fund drive continued with “I Helped Sow the Wheat” shirts sold at the festival
  • Festival now features Workshop Lane, along with an enlarged Main Stage, Second Stage, Third Stage and Kids Hill
  • Wheatland continues to support Our Front Porch which was offered to National Public Radio (NPR).  Highlights of radio shows and Wheatland festival recordings reached over 150 stations from New York City to Sitka, Alaska.
  • First Land Management meeting held

1985

  • Log Cabin is completed with 50 volunteers who showed up to help
  • Kids Hill Playhouse is built
  • Little Miami Theater Works recorded Remus family stories, wrote a musical based on the stories, and returned to perform it
  • Wheatland raffle begins

1986

  • Lola Tyler hired as WMO Office worker
  • Wheatland women and men make a quilt featuring festival program designs for Mark & Gladys Wernette’s 50th wedding anniversary.  It hangs in the Gladys Wernette Classroom Building today.
  • Other area nonprofits become food vendors along with food cooperatives
  • Performer Hospitality tent begins

1987

  • A recycling program is introduced at Wheatland
  • Monthly Wheatscouts program for children begins at Wheatland
  • Monthly WMO Jamborees begin at Wheatland

1988

  • “Third Stage” Dance Pavilion is built and named for Marty Wernette
  • WMO added “Inc.” to its name, WMO Logo Trademarked/Patented
  • Teen Dance at the Festival is established
  • Kids HIll performance platform built
  • Wernette Silo & Barn taken down
  • First calendar produced
  • Volunteers build WMO picnic tables

1989

  • Elyce Fishman Scholarship established
  • First Wheatland Dance Camp is held over Memorial Day Weekend (now Traditional Arts Weekend)
  • WMO collaborates with MSU to produce “Michigan In Song” Michigan performers cassettes
  • WMO presented with “Ambassador’s Award” by Mecosta County Chamber of Commerce
  • Film documentary made
  • First Folk Alliance conference
  • Five year planning retreat held
  • Concert series begins

1990

  • Remaining 140 acres purchased from Mark and Gladys Wernette on a payment plan
  • WMO Board develops revised mission statement, bylaws and organizational goals
  • WMO copyright registration process begins
  • The Gladys Wernette Classroom Building is built
  • Music Instrument-intensives launched

1991

  • Effort continues to replace festival tents.  Wheatland annual Membership program begins with 40% earmarked for new building projects.  Food Pavilion/Kitchen Building is built
  • Kids Hill expands with many more arts and crafts activities
  • Instrument Makers Showcase tent added
  • Open mic, teen dance and 60’s style coffee house Teen Scene
  • Black History Month celebrated at Gladys Wernette Building with Green/Todd Family Quilt Project, Robert Barclay “The Blues Today” photos and an evening concert with The Storytellers
  • Wheatscouts, Jamborees, Monthly dances, Community Education programming in schools and senior conters, Concert series and annual Dance Camp (now Traditional Arts Weekend) continue

1992

  • Gate & Information Building is built
  • Electricity became available at all work stations and lighting is added to the campgrounds
  • Orientation Workshops begin for campground volunteers
  • “Peace Train” named Lil’ Wheat and Totem pole workshop added to Kids Hill
  • Remus Post Office offers a WMO postmark for Wheatland postcards being sold at festival
  • Year-round instrument lessons begin through Community Education
  • Monthly dances begin in The Cabin
  • Leftover shirts donated to Louisiana after Hurricane Andrew
  • Articles of Incorporation updated
  • Copywrite efforts continue
  • Membership income used to purchase Walk-In Cooler and Storage Units for Kitchen Building

1993

  • Dulcimer Tent added
  • Lil’ Wheat on Kids Hill expanded with railroad tracks and a coal car
  • Roads wash out.  Road building begins.
  • Volunteer orientation workshops expanded
  • Main stage roof replaced with shingled fiddle design
  • Stone building workshop at Dance Camp (Traditional Arts Weekend)
  • 20th Anniversary Passages memory book produced

1994

  • Blue Workers Station (aka Kevins Korner) built
  • Kitchen Building improvements
  • Lil’ Wheat caboose added on Kids Hill
  • Dance Aisle in Main Stage added
  • Instrument Maker vendor booth expanded
  • Land Management Committee adopts mission statement to preserve natural assets.  An environmental land and forest plan was developed.
  • New Safety station for Henrie Bros/DeDannan Campgrounds
  • Advanced tickets only instituted to reduce number of attendees (reduced by 1000-1500)
  • Revised mission statement expanded to read “To serve as a resource center for the preservation and presentation of traditional music, arts & crafts.”
  • Wheatland Dance Camp becomes Traditional Arts Weekend (TAW)

1995

  • Red School House Safety Station built in Walk Up Camping
  • Chapel Safety Station built in The Pines
  • Second Stage Open Mic begins
  • Instrument Builder workshops begin
  • New Main Stage planning begins
  • Nature Trail built by Land Management.   Hundreds of trees planted; Earth Day tree planting established as annual event
  • Medical area physical improvements

1996

  • Mark & Gladys Wernette pass away within months of one another…Mark Wernette “Celebration of Life” held
  • New Main Stage design work and capital campaign fundraising begins
  • Wheatland gets first webpage
  • Orange Tree House Safety Station built in Henrie Brothers
  • Executive Director position developed and advertised.  No-one selected.  Lola promoted to Business Manager instead.

1997

  • Yellow General Store Safety Station built in Quiet Camp
  • Special Needs accommodation planning; Hospitality special needs carts & accessible camping areas and services added
  • Slow Jam added to Dulcimer Tent
  • Old Main Stage moved to Kids Hill
  • Stone bench built by Kazoo Folk Life friends to honor Spike and Margaret Owen west of The Pines
  • In memory of Mark & Gladys Wernette’s nephew Sim Wernette planted a tree and neighbor Maurice Schiffer built a stone bench by the Dance Pavilion
  • Main Stage building fundraising continues
  • Wheatscouts 10 Year Anniversary
  • Drumming area established north of Gladys Wernette Classroom Building

1998

  • New long Main Stage built birmed into hillside with 2500 volunteer hours by more than 50 volunteers including a beautiful Wheatland logo stained glass window
  • Over 1000 volunteers work for the festival
  • Green Chapel Safety Station built in The Pines
  • A major storm downs 600 trees
  • New Kids Arts & Crafts Area formalized
  • 10th Traditional Arts Weekend held
  • The Blissfest Music Organization made a sum of money available to the Elyce Fishman Fund earmarked for applicants from the Northern Lower or Eastern Upper Michigan Penninsula areas
  • Bylaws changes adopted
  • Drumming workshops in drumming circle

1999

  • Folk Instrument Tent begins
  • Reforestation plan, 500 trees planted
  • Wheatland creates new webpage
  • Performer Hospitality building planning

2000

  • The Tot Lot created on Kids Hill and Teen Scene added
  • MiddleGround begins though not yet named
  • Good Neighbor Award presented to Joe & Ruth Fate
  • Main Stage seating area contoured
  • Annual meeting held; long range vision for next 10 years announced; key goals: Keep building long-term giving fund.  Maintain green space.  Be good neighbors.  Put paid customers needs first.
  • Wheatland given a “Hometown Hero” plaque by the Mecosta Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • 12th Annual Traditional Arts Weekend
  • 14th year of Wheatscouts
  • Community Education adds Saturday Arts Classes
  • The “Wheat Future Fund” was established using three gifts as a long term fund and eventual endowment to provide an additional source of future operating funds
  • Sharing the Legacy project; Documentation of area tradition bearers, musicians and artists
  • The Performers Hospitality Building known as the “Post Office” is built in honor of Mark Wernette

2001

  • Heavy mud.  Main Stage closed early and performances moved to Second and Third Stages.  Lots of mud surfing in the campgrounds!
  • Teen Scene renamed MiddleGround with activities for those who have outgrown Kids Hill with arts/crafts, music and other activities
  • Festival photo contest begins
  • 15th Traditional Arts Weekend
  • Drumming added to schedule  up by the Gladys Wernette Building
  • Annual donors  begin receiving window decals as Wheatland members or benefactors

2002

  • Kids Hill building built
  • Tile Project Begins
  • 13,000 people at festival
  • 93 raffle prizes donated
  • Split Rail fencing project
  • Plan underway to archive festival recordings
  • New Elyce Fishman Scholarship policies adopted; Committee begins accepting applications from children and adults statewide
  • Board Retreat held
  • Webpage redesigned

2003

  • Spirit Awards given to those who shared the same sense of community spirit, generosity and neighborliness as our inspirations: The Mark Wernette Family.  2003 recipients included:  June and Arn Rhode, Lyle Moore, Lester Howard, Ted Baumann, Joe & Ruth Fate, Char & Bill Doerr, Arnold Lehnert, Frank Blanzy, Ann & Ray Simon
  • 30 Years of Memories in Festival Program
  • Kids Hill Open Mic begins
  • The Barn Recording Studio at Gladys Wernette building during festival allowed festival goers to create CD demos
  • Volunteer survey completed
  • New website launched
  • CMU School of Music begins helping transferring archival recordings

2004

  • Drum pit project
  • Medical area officially named Willie Davis Medical Station
  • Over 100 trees planted on Earth Day

2005

  • Second Stage becomes Centennial Stage
  • Kids Art Marketplace begins
  • Sound Garden installation on Kids Hill by Frank Youngman
  • Tiled Pillar project by Inge Sturm
  • First Spring Recital of fiddle students
  • Gate Building enlarged/rebuilt
  • 2005 Spirit Award recipients: “Debuty Joel” Vincent, Robert “Bob” Welling, Remus Lumber, the Nile Young family, Jim and Terry Shepherd Addington, David”Reno” Renn.
  • Multiple donations are sent to Louisiana once again to help those effected by Hurricane Katrina

2006

  • Dance Pavilion floor replaced
  • Listening Station established with archived recordings in Gladys Wernette building

2007

  • Kids Hill Tiled Wall
  • 2007 Spirit Award Recipients: Carol Rames, Phil Mikus, Mona & the late Marvin “Bud” Bunting, Robert Ebner & crew.  Awards given to recognize community spirit, generosity & neighborliness as in the spirit of the Mark Wernette Family.
  • New Remus Billboard partly funded by WMO
  • Wheatscouts 20 year anniversary
  • 39 artists in Arts & Crafts and 277 Raffle prizes donated & awarded
  • Tiled benches built on Kids Hill

2008

  • Dance Pavilion enlargement plans underway
  • Traditional music/arts immersion camp planning begins

2009

  • Volunteer recognition event
  • Jenine Stickler Memorial Scholarship endowment established at Mecosta County Community Foundation
  • Email broadcasts begin
  • Tile benches built near Dance Pavilion
  • Fundraising planning for Dance Pavilion expansion

2010

  • The first winter event Hair of the Dog (now Winter Wheat) was held 1.2.2010 in Grand Rapids.  The proceeds were used to expand the Dance Pavilion.
  • Reopening of Marty Wernette Dance Pavilion after an addition was built.  The effort was accomplished with nine area contracted firms and 29 volunteers.
  • Wheatland Music Facebook Page created
  • Year-round camping licensing planning
  • Portable showers
  • New Gate Building
  • Land survey completed
  • CMU begins work on a 2nd CD of recordings

2011

  • 2nd winter event named Winter Wheat held New Years Day at the Intersection in Grand Rapids.  Twelve bands were featured on two stages and a dance floor.  The ticket revenue by 284 people was used to help support the long range plan for WMO facilities.
  • Winter Wheat recordings made
  • Planning begins for a future drum kiva/acoustic performance center
  • Site survey completed for campground license
  • An accessible ramp was added to the Kids Hill stage

2012

  • The 3rd Winter Wheat drew 676 people who enjoyed 12 band and 12 hours of live traditional music and dancing.  Over $5,000 was raised toward the Kids Hill walk-way.
  • Cement path built to Kids Hill
  • Carry it on… project developed
  • Acoustic Performance Venue (drum kiva) design begun
  • Administrative Assistant hired
  • Wheatland collaborates with Remus DDA, Remus Heritage Days and Remus Area Historical Society to create www.remus.org
  • Bylaws changed to 15 Board positions
  • Five year plan revised to include Kive/Acoustic venue design planning
  • Monthly eNews created
  • Major July storm downs many trees.  Major clean up effort.

2013

  • The 4th Winter Wheat was held January 12 in Grand Rapids where 767 people enjoyed the dozens of bands who discounted or waived their fees to support development of a future Acoustic Performance (drum kiva) Venue
  • Tiled cook stations
  • Web page analysis and redesign
  • QuarterNotes newsletter available electronically
  • 25th anniversary of Traditional Arts Weekend
  • New floor for Main Stage and sound towers.  New siding on Gladys Wernette Classroom Building and new roof.  New floor platform on Kids Hill water station.
  • Passages II four decade memory book produced for 40th Anniversary of festival
  • Carry it on… project – First commissioned project involving over 70 professional and community dancers and musicians.  Carry it on… Dance on Camera film by Sharon Leahy sold.

2014

  • The 5th Winter Wheat was held January 11 in Grand Rapids where dozens of bands discounted or waived their fees to support development of a future Acoustic Performance (drum kiva) Venue.
  • Carry it on… Dance on Camera film featured at the Lincoln Performing Center in New York City.