By Pat Maurer
Harmony Hill, formerly Mott Mountain and most recently known as Silver Ridge, will be opening again in mid-winter [tentatively on February 1] but you can get a preview of the “fun to come” even sooner. On New Year’s Eve they will open the restaurant – Harmony Lodge — especially for the holiday evening. They are planning to feature live music from a variety of bands and many special activities. For more information you can go to theharmonyhill.com or see their ad in this week’s issue of the Review.
The entire facility, located at 1001 Mott Mountain Road in Farwell, includes 110 acres, a restaurant, night club, sound stage, offices and several other buildings. The property was purchased November 1 by five partners; one silent partner and four others: Aaron Mohr, his finance Johannah Scarlet, Ray Moran, Kyle Eckles and Douglas Murphy.
“We all work really well together,” Aaron said. According to Johannah, Aaron is the creative mastermind of the group, she is the organizer, Kyle is the Chef, Ray is the Engineer and Technical Supervisor and Douglas is the financial consultant of the group.
Aaron, Ray, Kyle and Johannah have all been working together in the Michigan film industry for the past five years. They are members of the IATSE [The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees] and have been a part of the production crew on several recent popular films including the “Five Year Engagement” which was released last April, “Red Dawn” released earlier this year, and the new Disney film coming out in March “Oz, the Great and Powerful.”
Aaron who lives in Pinckney, near Ann Arbor, was born and raised in Los Angeles, but moved to Michigan and graduated from Durand High School. He then lived in New York for six years working on Broadway and in Television as part of his family’s business. “I moved back to Michigan to raise my son, who is ten now,” he said.
Johannah is a graduate of Albion College whose family is from Farmington Hills. Kyle Eckles is from Clarkston and graduated from Western Michigan University. Douglas Murphy lives in Livonia and is also a land developer. Ray Moran is from Gross Point Farms and graduated from Lawrence Technical College in Southfield.
The partners came up north just a couple of weeks ago to begin working on getting the site ready to open to the public.
“We heard about the property from Terry Slaggert of Big Top Rentals in Clare,” Aaron said. “We were looking for a home. We came up and looked at it and just fell in love with it and the area. We put in an offer and the rest is history.”
They have a lot of great ideas for Harmony Hill. “We have the biggest sound stage in Michigan here,” Aaron said. “We want to be like the DTE Music Center (formerly Pine Knob). We want it to be a stop on everybody’s national tour – for them to come to Detroit and then up here to mid-Michigan. We want the people’s favorite headliners – Bob Seger, Kid Rock, Blake Shelton and more to come to Clare County to perform.”
“We want to provide consistent headlining talent several times every month through the spring and summer – and to make Harmony Hill a part of the community in general. Everybody has been wonderful to us here,” he said. “We will be surveying people in the area to see what they would like to have here at Harmony Hill.”
Another possibility they are discussing is a Kids Music Festival and/or a summer camp for youngsters.
A campground on site will be available for extended festivals and events, Johannah said.
Ray cited possible winter activities they will be looking into like sledding, snowboarding and tobogganing on the hill in the winter and possibly turning a parking lot into a free usable skating rink for the community. “Everyone can warm up in the lodge with hot cocoa,” he said.
“There are so many cool things we could do here,” Aaron said. “The stage could be used for multi-county school activities like plays, talent shows, flea markets and auctions or for expos like gun and knife shows and RV shows. We have tons of space here and tons of stuff. And we want to be a part of the community, and bring in new customers to the local businesses.”
“Our goal is to provide good food and good entertainment and to be a community focal point for that great food and entertainment,” Aaron said. “We are planning to have one to two events monthly in the winter and four events monthly in the spring and summer months.”
“We are really excited to be here,” he said.