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Concert in the Hayfield is Thursday

Even for a rural area, the Concert in the Hayfield is unusual. Louis and Mary Wierenga annually open their farm to hundreds of people who bring their own chairs to listen to music by the combined school and community band and the Thornapple Jazz Orchestra. Mixed in with brass and woodwinds is the sound of a passing tractor pulling a wagon load of guests, the smell of hot dogs sizzling on the grill, and the sight of guests jockeying to bid on silent auction items. The taste of ice cream adds to the charm.

“This fun family event is for the whole community,” Spencer White, co-director for the Hastings school band program, said.

The event from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 30, is a fundraiser for the Hastings band program, but it is open to anyone from any district and free of charge.

A Grand Rapids area native, White didn’t take Louis Wierenga seriously several years ago when Wierenga first suggested hosting a fundraising concert in a farm field. But Wierenga persisted, and White eventually realized it was more than a suggestion.

This will be the seventh concert in the hayfield, which brings together students in eighth to 11th grades, recent alumni and adult musicians. The Thornapple Jazz Orchestra will perform separately, and then all musicians will play as one mass band. Hastings alumni also join the performance. In fact, any adult musicians who want to play in the band are invited to the practice Wednesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Hastings High School band room.

But it’s not all about music. The Wierengas also have lined up numerous items for the silent auction – some big items.

Area implement dealers will have equipment available, provided minimum bids are met, including a:

- Four-wheel drive TX John Deere Gator from Greenmark Equipment in Hastings.

- Case 55C Diesel compact tractor with loader and front-wheel assist from Janson Equipment in Charlotte.

- 2019 Dodge Ram 2500 heavy-duty extended-cab four-wheel drive pickup with a Cummins diesel engine from Youngs Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Ionia.

- Country Clipper XLT zero-turn lawn mower from Maple Valley Implement in Nashville.

If the minimum bids on these items are met, the band program will get any amounts above that minimum, Wierenga said.

Numerous individuals, families and businesses also have contributed services, products and gift cards for the silent auction, including:

- Four tickets to an MSU home football game

- Restaurant, bakery and ice cream parlor gift certificates

- Handcrafted wooden semi-truck

- Rocking motorcycle

- John Deere farm toys

- Lawn chairs

- Jewelry

- Potted flowers

- Farm-related home décor items

- Stadium seat

- MSU pillow and blanket

- Lawn fertilizer

- Plot seed for deer

More items are being donated, Wierenga said; concert-goers will see several items not listed.

In the past several years, the Wierengas have offered a “Day on the Farm” pass to the highest bidders. The winners have opted to bring their families out at harvest time to help with chores, ride in a combine and each lunch on the farm.

The silent auction and cash donations have brought in well over $25,000 for the bands in the past six years, Wierenga said. Anyone wishing to donate a silent auction item may call 269-945-6102.

The farm is at 2704 N. Charlton Park Road, just north of Coats Grove Road. In case of rain, all activities will be moved into a large new storage barn next to the field. Handicap-accessible restrooms will be available.

White said guests should bring lawn chairs, blankets, cash and smiles.

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