In 1970 a group of youths from Berea had visions of creating a local version of Woodstock, at least in a small way. Some enterprising promoter put an ad in a local paper inviting the public to a rock festival near Wallace Lake at the area known, appropriately as Music Mound. Unfortunately no one thought to obtain the necessary permission from the Cleveland Metropolitan Parks, since the land in question was after all, part of Rocky River Reservation. When no concert materialized several hundred youths created a small riot, throwing rocks and bottles into shop windows in central Berea near the park.
But the story has a happy ending. Representatives from the local law enforcement agencies, including the park rangers, has what the Plain Dealer called, in an attempt to speak the language of the youth “ a rap session.” The young people and their elders both agreed that they needed an attitude adjustment. The kids admitted that although they considered the park their personal hang-out they still needed to follow park rules (such as no illegal substances) and keep the area clean. The adults conceded that, while they didn’t like the rock music the kids played on their guitars, the kids were free to enjoy the music if they were otherwise following the law.
Other than some kids playing impromptu music in and informal low key setting (pun intended) no large festival ever turned Music Mound into “Bereastock.”
Ironically, just a few years before this incident, Director Harold Groth touted the Music Mound area as a great spot for musical and theatrical performances. He invited groups to solicit permission to use the area and assured them of assistance from the park system in setting out extra trash cans and spraying for mosquitoes.
Music Mound, as its name implies was created with the idea of concerts in mind. It was part of the WPA Berea Quarries project in the late 1930s that also created Wallace and Baldwin Lakes out of the old quarry site. In the 1940s and early 50s students from Baldwin-Wallace conservatory did perform on the natural rock and grass stage. They also used the space for their May Day celebrations complete with a May Pole and queen. But the lack of electricity began to limit the usage of Music Mound as small rock bands that utilized electronic instruments and microphone enhanced vocals became the new standard in pop music.
The area is still a lovely setting. You can almost imagine the fairies from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night Dream frolicking through the greenery playing music and dancing. Make a visit to this spot and walk among the stones and trees, maybe play some music on your phone or Ipod and have your own mini-concert. You can find Music Mound off the Valley Parkway in Mill Stream Run Reservation across the road from Wallace Lake.
Cleveland Metroparks Historian