The Mountain is an old west town. It is nestled on a wooded hillside two blocks east of downtown Canton, Texas located just one hour East of Dallas on I-20. Overnight lodging, unique shops and restaurants line the winding streets. Many of the shop owners dress in period clothing. Were open during Canton Trade Days or some call it First Monday Trade Days.
History of the Mountain
Wild Willie’s II Mountain in Canton created a village that springs to life two weekends a month that is part theme park and part market that the whole family can enjoy. As you wander the streets of the village you can visit the more than 70 shops, dine at one of 17 eateries, watch a street show, or play in one of the arcades.
Cut into the side of an East Texas hill and shaded by towering pine trees, the village is crammed full of shops selling everything from antiques to dolls. Most of the proprietors dress in 1800s costumes and join skits in the streets to entertain visitors.
“We call [the shop owners] our associates,” said Beverly Martinek, the mother of the owner and a partner in the project. “They’re the creative force and carry out our vision.” The Martineks include Beverly’s son, Dustin, his wife, Robin, and Beverly’s husband Wild Willie I (Dwight). Their vision is to create a theme park and market atmosphere that appeals to a variety of interests.
Dwight Martinek is probably best known in the Austin area for his Wild Willie’s World Famous Yard Art and Honor store in Wimberley. Dwight crafts unusual sculpture from automobile parts and other discarded items that have graced yards all over the country.
The Martineks left sculpture in their yard with a wooden box for customers to pay for what they took. The Martineks travel around the country to fairs and markets. Of all the places they have visited, their favorite was the First Monday Trade Days. “We always made the trip to Canton,” Beverly said.
The mountain theme park began innocently enough, Beverly said. The Martineks saw the property about a mile from the First Monday Trade Days grounds with an old barn and thought it would be a perfect place to store Dwight’s sculptures between trade days. With the purchase of the barn and the 26 acres around it, Dwight and Beverly weren’t having to haul two truck loads and a trailer between Wimberley and Canton every month.
“Pretty soon people started asking if they could rent space next to the barn to sell their stuff,” Beverly said. Dustin, a recent business graduate of Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, hit on the idea of adding the Western theme park market and opened the first phase of the village in October 1995.
With three markets happening on the weekend of the first Monday in Canton (there is also the Old Mill Marketplace), the corner of TX64 and TX19 might be the busiest intersection in the state that weekend. The Canton trade days can attract more than 450,000 people. Beverly said that the first weekend they were open they had more than 90,000 visitors on Saturday alone.
Until late last year, Beverly and Dwight were still commuting between Wimberley and Canton when they decided to move to East Texas. “We like to think that we brought a lot of Wimberley with us,” Beverly said. Wild Willie’s art can still be seen around Wimberley in yards and in front of businesses.
As the market in an old Western movie setting evolves, the Martineks have been expanding. Last year they added Wild Willie’s Concert Country and brought four national acts to the outdoor amphitheater. This year’s concert season was kicked off by Willie Nelson.
They have also opened their own campground next door to the village and brought in the North Texas Gun Fighters Association to act as security and as a Wild West show.
There is no admission fee to Wild Willie’s II Mountain, which opens the weekend before and the weekend of the Canton First Monday Trade Days. The Mountain is on TX64 just east of the intersection with TX19 and south of I-20 about an hour east of Dallas and four hours from Austin. For more information, call 903/567-5574