The MPA Opry Barn has had a good year so far, we've had a few shows of various types, we have a few more to go this year. But how did we get to this point of having a barn?
Many years ago there was a Metamora Performing Arts group that put on variety/medicine man shows in the backyard of the Martindale House (more about that property at another time). That group moved into Brookville for their shows and then slowly faded away.
Meanwhile, Jim Wendel had a folk/porch music gang of people he jammed with that started gathering at his farm at the end of Lover's Lane, down near the Duck Creek Aqueduct, on Labor Day weekend. They would camp in the meadow, pull in a low boy trailer for a stage and have fun. This started getting more organized, and Jim came to Historic Metamora for some help in grant funding, and 17 years later we have a really nice Music Festival that features lots of regional talent.
At one point Jim needed to do some work on his barn, so he went ahead and added the Back Porch to the building in 2007. Once that was in place, why only use it once a year? So Acoustic Final Fridays were started, intended to be just during the summer when the weather was suitable to sit out at the Back Porch. But it quickly became a year round thing, moving from business to business in the town for inclement weather sites.
Since we knew all these musicians and pickers, it seemed like a natural thing to try to celebrate the seasonal opening of the Grist Mill one April with a jam on its porch. Well, immediately that took off and Larry Wayt hosts a jam on the first Sunday afternoon of each month at the Metamora Grist Mill from April to September. And then that went year-round and had to move to indoor locations for the winter.
And the people working with the Music Festival were asked to help with finding music for Strawberry Days, and the Christmas Walk. And from time to time, help with programs at the State Historic Site. Music just seemed to be the thing that was working for Metamora.
A group decided to reactivate and re-incorporate Metamora Performing Arts, and try to purchase a building to program events in year round. It soon became obvious that we didn't have the resources to buy a building, but it was suggested that perhaps we could rent the canning factory building out on Pennington Road, most recently used as an auction barn. Long story short, we rented the old warehouse, put in a stage, and started scheduling stuff.
Many people have put in a lot of work to make this happen, but it's all worked out. There are monthly Bluegrass Nights, we have a place to have the Acoustic Final Friday when the weather won't cooperate at the Back Porch, and the Sunday jams could move in this winter.