Special Projects


Because 2013 was the 40th anniversary of the Wheatland Music festival and the 25th year of Traditional Arts Weekend, multiple ways to commemorate the year were planned.  A new 40 year Anniversary Book called Passages II was developed along with a production called Carry it on... involving more than 50 Michigan youth and adults as well as many artists from past years.

A Saturday night dance performance on the main stage at Wheatland has been a highlight of many a September Festival. It generates excitement like nothing else, and so it was fitting that the centerpiece of our 40th Anniversary Festival Celebration featured the finest professional dancers in the country.

Having been commissioned by the Wheatland Music Organization, Inc. (WMO) to create this performance, former Rhythm in Shoes director, Sharon Leahy had assembled a Who’s Who of hoofers from Wheatland’s past to perform in the Carry it on… Project. Dancers Ira Bernstein, Christine Galante, Nic Gareiss, Matt Gordon, Becky Hill, Abby Ladin, Matt Olwell, Rodney Sutton, Zane Terry, Heidi (Kulas) Whitfield and Emma Young carried on Wheatland’s long-standing tradition of presenting the best in traditional dance. Having graced the stage with the country’s finest step dance ensembles–the Green Grass Cloggers, the Fiddle Puppets, Shuffle Creek Dancers, Footnotes, Footworks, Good Foot and Rhythm in Shoes–these dancers were no strangers to our Festival crowd. Joining them was over 65 of Michigan’s finest percussive dancers, ages 12-62, a string quartet and the finest dance band in all the land–Rick Good, Cleek Schrey, Sam Bartlett, Ben Cooper, Kevin Anderson and Tom T Ball.  

Carry it on…

A sure to be amazing and special performance during the festival on Main Stage Saturday night is the culmination of a yearlong project called Carry it on… It incorporates four generations and more than 70 dancers across Michigan as well as 23 professional percussive dancers and musicians from across the country! 

In celebration of the 40th anniversary, Wheatland Music Organization commissioned the former directors of the Rhythm in Shoes dance and music company to create Carry it on…  The project is the innovation of, and being directed by, renowned artist and dancer Sharon Leahy.  Original music has been composed by Rick Good.  Both are well known and abundant creators as dancers, musicians, actors, writers, educators and advocates of America’s musical roots. Wheatland Music has a long, fruitful and trusting relationship with the duo that dates back to 1977.

Over the last year the project has included multiple residency trainings (19 visits to 6 different sites across Michigan) for children and adults dancers.  Twelve dancers received training in the Ann Arbor area, 8 in the Lansing area, 32 in Mt. Pleasant and Alma, 9 in northwest Michigan and 10 in Remus. In addition, the project included dance instruction for the public.  Ten people received instruction at Wheatland’s Gladys Wernette Classroom Building and twelve different dance style workshops were taught at the 25th annual Traditional Arts Weekend held in May reaching 232 dancers.


Two much loved Michigan natives and Wheatlanders have had key leadership roles in the project.  Nic Gareiss coordinated and served as the community liaison and Becky Hill, mentored by Sharon, produced a newly choreographed work.  Wheatland favorites Rodney Sutton  and Heidi (Kulas) Whitfield also have cameo appearances in the Saturday night performance.

Emma Young, Megan Hague, Christine Galante, Zane Terry, Nic Gareiss, Becky Hill, Matt Olwell, Abby Ladin
Photo by Andy Snow

Film Cast & Crew
Front Row: Mike Buol, Rick Good, Clay Cooper, Ruth Bartlett, Olive Cooper, Olivia Good, Cleek Schrey
2nd Row: Erick Stoll, Megan Hague, Stefan Bartlett, Abby Ladin, Becky Hill, Wade Bartlett, Sharon Leahy, Ira Bernstein, Nic Gareiss
Back Row: Ben Cooper, Matt Gordon, Christine Galante, Matt Olwell, Sam Bartlett, Emma Young, Zane Terry
Photo by Andy Snow

The Carry it on… project is being supported by Wheatland Music Organization along with funding from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA), The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) and by gifts by these 40th Anniversary family, business and organization sponsors:

A-B-O Tent Events  
Auto-Owners Insurance/Mt. Pleasant Agency, Inc.
Jeff and Julia Baker  
Blissfest Music Organization  
The Blue Water Ramblers  
Audrey DuBois  
Canadian Lakes Excavating  
Randy Case & family /Architecture + design Inc.   
Costabella Cloggers  
Country Dance and Song Society  
Robert Folkert and Daughters
Fuzzy’s Corner Camp  
Elderly Instruments   
Fauxgrass Music, LLC & Chris Wheeler Family Foundation  
Kurt & Julie Feight /Mt. Pleasant Agency, Inc.  
Fence Crew Volunteers
Hiawatha Music Co-op
J Folks
Lakeview Jaycees
Lynn & Free Kellogg
Sharon Leahy/Rick Good
Kerkstra Portable Restroom Service Inc.
Kerkstra Septic Tank Cleaning, Inc.   
Ted & Fran Kondek   
Millie Lambert
Bill & Brenda Lipar/ Remus Tavern
Janet Mainville
Jeff Pauli & Carolyn Wiser
The Raftary clan
Chad B. and Emily Anderson
Tom Arnold & Bett Novak-Arnold
Robert Blair & Rosie Zywiol
Paul & Pamela R. Blanchett
Sarah & Fred Dagostino
Joyel & Dilworth Dowgialio
Therese Dowgiallo
John T Golden MD
Nicholas & Tracy Haratsaris
Christine & Brian Kuhn
Kathleen & Edward Mroz
Bob & Mary Beth Mundt
Alice Raftary

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