GREEN VALLEY - Robert Mohn was a man on a mission. He wanted to bring people together to enjoy a day of good music and good times.
"Whoever comes here, I want them to have fun," Mohn said. Judging by the people unfolding lawn chairs inside a restored building at Mohn's farmstead north of Green Valley on Saturday, that mission was being accomplished.
Mohn and his wife Elaine were the hosts at the Gathering of Friends Family Music Festival this weekend. The festival was in and around a collection of farm buildings Mohn has been restoring himself. Musicians performed in the open air on the porch of the Heritage Music Hall, or took to a stage inside that was decorated with pillars and a stained glass window salvaged from a country church.
Photo by Deb Gau
Members of the CountrySquires band played classic country and rock ‘n roll songs on the porch of the 1885 Music Hall during the Family Music Festival on Saturday.
People were free to come and go throughout the festival, setting up lawn chairs in the shade near the music hall porch, clapping along with the music or checking out the nearby petting barn. Mohn said it was important that the music festival be family-friendly, so he made sure to have activities geared toward kids.
Listening to music ranging from bluegrass and gospel to 1950s rock 'n' roll was a fun way to spend an afternoon, visitors to the music hall said.
"We didn't have anything to do, and we love music," said Jan and Eldon Krull.
The clear and sunny weather added to the atmosphere.
"You've got to enjoy it while you can," Jan Krull said.
"We didn't get to sit outside much this summer," another festival-goer said.
Mohn said he tried a few different methods to invite enough bands and musicians to fill a day-long schedule. Some people he spoke to at local events like the Lyon County Fair, he said. Others he learned about online.
Vilene Kussatz of Wood Lake said she learned about the music festival through a family member who was invited. Her favorite performances, she said, were "probably the bluegrass. I like country music, because my husband had a band that was a country band."
"I'm real happy with it," Mohn said of the festival turnout. Around 30 or 40 people filled the main seating space in the music hall. Enjoying the day with visitors was the best payoff for the many hours spent fixing up the venue, Mohn said.
Mohn said he plans to continue having events for the public at the Family Heritage Ranch, and will keep adding new features to the property. As long as people have fun, it's worth it, he said.