Rolling hills, meadows and wooded areas of sugar maple, american beech, red oak, black cherry, aspen, white and jack pine comprise the 160 acre Wheatland Music Organization property. Once the centennial farm of Mark and Gladys (Baumann) Wernette, the Wheatland property includes the entire southeast quarter of Wheatland Township’s Section 30 in Mecosta County, Michigan. Stone pile fences and pine stump rows built long ago to confine cattle and control erosion serve as wistful reminders of the land’s rich heritage.
Since 1975 when the traditional arts organization began using the site for events, walking paths and roads have been built throughout the property. During the annual festival and Traditional Arts Weekend, the hay fields and meadows are used as primitive campgrounds. Each of the campground areas has a small volunteer workstation built by volunteers. For example, a small Chapel serves as the workstation in the Pines, a General Store in Hotmud Holler, a Tree house in Henrie Brothers, and a School House in Walk-up Camping near Dutch Cove. There are four wells on the property tested prior to events providing drinking water for campers.
In 1986, Wheatland volunteers built the 1,050 square foot log cabin. Just off 50th avenue, 2 1/2 miles south of M-20, the cabin served as the gathering place, housed performers and the office for many years. Equipped with two bathrooms, a loft, a kitchen area and a meeting area it is now used for jamborees, arts workshops and meetings. The building is heated with electric heat and has a wood stove as back-up.
In 1988, the “third stage” dance pavilion named in memory of Marty Wernette was built. It hosts a dance floor of 2,560 square feet, a 320 sq. ft. stage area for performers, a 160 sq. ft. dressing area and a 160 sq. ft. storage area. The dance pavilion has electrical power and a water fountain.
The main entrance for the annual festival and Traditional Arts Weekend is from Pierce Road. The “gate” building is the first structure next to a field used as “day parking.” Moving onward, the “downtown” area begins. Handicapped parking is located next to the Information building and mercury lights shine overhead at night.
The Information Building, 1,200 square feet, was constructed in 1992 with five bays. During events, the bays are used for workshops, first aid, information, and sale items. This building has electrical, phone jacks and water.
Just east of the Information Building stands the Kitchen Building. It is a 4,800 structure with hot and cold running water, a walk in cooler, cooking and cleaning areas, and buffet serving counters. Totally enclosed against the weather, the building is used for producing and serving large numbers of meals.
The Main Stage is the centerpiece of the downtown. area. Built in 1998 of trussed rustic logs, the Main Stage is bermed into the jack pine wooded hillside. It has a total area of 2,774 square feet of which 1,976 sq. ft. is the stage area and 798 sq. ft. is the backstage area. The backstage area includes a kitchenette, a bathroom, dressing area recording area and warm-up area. A covered porch roof overhangs three sides with stone wall entry ways. The building has both electrical and running water. Cabling for the sound engineers runs underground and speaker towers are built aloft on each side. This is a state-of-the-art outdoor performance facility adding stability and longevity for cultural activities in the community.
The Kids Hill building was built for storing and organizing arts supplies. It is a 560 square foot building located on what is known as Kids Hills on the east side of the “Pines.” Kids Hills also has a large playscape area for children with a climbing “train,” slide and sand dune area.
The first “main stage” was built by volunteers in 1978 using beams and barn wood from the Wernette barn built in 1883. The roof was shingled with donated materials making a quilted effect. In 1998, that stage was moved to Kids Hill where it stands today nestled amongst white pine.
A Hospitality building known as the “Post Office” in honor of Mark Wernette was built in 2001 next to a birch and poplar stand of woods. The building has electrical and heat.
The Classroom Building was built in 1990 to host large arts workshops, dances and performances. The 5,600 square foot heated structure has a large hardwood dance floor. The dance floor area can be divided with accordion curtains for multiple workshops or meetings. The Classroom also has two bathrooms and a kitchenette. In 2001, an addition was built onto the Classroom housing the new offices.