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Creating Community With A 'Third Place Music Festival' In Ann Arbor

Meg Rohrer

Founded on the principles--both simple and often overlooked--that concerts should be radically welcoming, accessible, and inclusive, a "Third Place Music Fest" is taking place August 25th-28th at several different locations around Ann Arbor.

WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with one of the festival's directors, Wesley Hornpetrie, about their mission is to bring together artists and businesses from the region to celebrate the power of the "third place." 


Lisa Barry: [00:00:00] As August winds down, the local cultural scene, it seems, is bursting with opportunities this weekend for music and performances. This is Lisa Barry, and whether it's Peter Sparling dancing at Riverside Arts Center Saturday afternoon in Ypsilanti or George Bedard on stage Saturday night at the Ark in Ann Arbor. there's a lot going on, including something relatively new. It's called the Third Place MusicFest. And joining us now is one of the co-directors, Wesley Hornpetrie. Thanks for joining us.

Wesley Hornpetrie: [00:00:31] Thank you for having me.

Lisa Barry: [00:00:32] Let's start with what you mean by "third place" for those who might not be familiar with exactly what that means.

Wesley Hornpetrie: [00:00:37] Absolutely. It's often confusing to people. So, it's actually inspired by a sociology term: the third place. And the idea is that people have their first place being their home and their second place being their work or school or something like that. But communities are richer and people have richer lives by having what we call third places, which is something outside of that. It could be a teahouse, distilling company, a coffee shop, a meatery, things like that--places where people can gather, and it's radically accessible, and you're going to see new people and old people and it's just your home away from home.

Lisa Barry: [00:01:21] And that's exactly what you're doing with a third place music fest. You're having different performers in different locations around the Ann Arbor area?

Wesley Hornpetrie: [00:01:30] Yes, that's exactly right. It's not your traditional festival where there's one stage and it's a stream of people on the same stage, but it's you can think of it as a cute traveling festival. We have nine different local third places--nine different venues and nine concerts across a four-day period.

Credit Third Place [MusicFest] /
List of Third Place [MusicFest] events

Lisa Barry: [00:01:49] Can you tell us some of the places and performers?

Wesley Hornpetrie: [00:01:51] We're super excited about the variety. This is really just a phenomenal representation of the arts community and southeastern Michigan. Some places include Vertex Coffee Roasters. It'll kick off the festival with the Estar Cohen Project. We also have a woodwind quintet, Pure Winds. So we have some folk and classical music. Other venues include Blom Meadworks, Argus Farmstop on Liberty, Bandemer Park will have a sound installation piece at the top of Bandemer Park. We're going to have folk, experimental, jazz, classical, performance art, and much, much more.

Lisa Barry: [00:02:30] And this is featuring all Ann Arbor or local musicians.

Credit Meg Rohrer /
Third Place [MusicFest] performers

Wesley Hornpetrie: [00:02:34] Yeah, a lot of Detroit artists, Ypsilanti artists, Ann Arbor artists, and Michigan local grassroots art is happening.

Lisa Barry: [00:02:41] And I know you have a group of principles that you founded this on. Can you tell us about those?

Wesley Hornpetrie: [00:02:46] You don't really assemble upon classical music concerts that easily, or concerts that easily. And so, we wanted to intersect the power of the third place with local arts, because, you know, you can live in a place for 15 years and have never heard of this. Just amazing artists that could totally change your way of thinking or completely resonate with you. And so, we wanted to really just bring a ton of different communities together through this festival.

Lisa Barry: [00:03:14] And, unfortunately, we're still in a pandemic, and, unfortunately, cases are moving in the wrong direction. So will these be inside or outside or will you have COVID safety protocols?

Wesley Hornpetrie: [00:03:26] Yeah, absolutely. And thank you for bringing that up. So, our venues are about half indoor, half outdoor. We do have rain plans for all of the outdoor concerts. So, there is a possibility that every concert could be indoors. Masks are required for every single attendee. And we'll have extras, don't worry. And that will be very enforced. And there may be maskless performers just when they're on stage, but they are all vaccinated if you see someone unmasked or vaccinated and just while they're on stage. But, hopefully, we'll have a lot of outdoor concerts, and there will be a capacity as well.

Lisa Barry: [00:04:02] Who are you targeting? Who are you hoping attends these third place music festival events?

Wesley Hornpetrie: [00:04:09] Oh, my gosh. What a great question. Wow. Everyone. Anyone who wants something to do on a Wednesday or Thursday night. It's supposed to enrich anyone's life. You know, it's something to do. Meet someone new. See a new artist. It's really anyone who's interested in doing something new and fun and who would want to meet a new friend.

Lisa Barry: [00:04:33] Is there a cost to attend?

Wesley Hornpetrie: [00:04:35] Yes. So, speaking of accessibility, we run on a, like, kind of a sliding scale, so you can pay--you can show up at the door of any of our nine concerts and pay over three, five, or ten dollars for admission. Whatever price, you know, works for your lifestyle. You can also go to our website and get a festival pass. And there is definitely value in doing that. And that's also a sliding scale for either 20, 40 or 70. And you can have admission to all of the nine concerts with a festival pass--whatever price works for you.

Lisa Barry: [00:05:11] Again, the Third Place MusicFest runs through Saturday in the Ann Arbor area this weekend. And one last chance to suggest why people might want to attend.

Credit Meg Rohrer /
Third Place [MusicFest] venue


Wesley Hornpetrie: [00:05:22] We've been in a really strange place for the last year and a half or so. We're hoping to provide a welcoming space for people to create community again, because I can only speak for myself when I say I really need it. So, we're hoping to provide that for others safely.

Lisa Barry: [00:05:40] We'll put a link to all the events and concerts that people can see when and where they are. Wesley Hornpetrie, co-director of Third Place MusicFest. Thanks so much for sharing all this information with us here on Eighty Nine One WEMU.

Wesley Hornpetrie: [00:05:52] Thank you. Love NPR. Thanks so much. 

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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