Harvest Moon rising
Tiny town's farming and culture festival makes triumphant return in wake of pandemic
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/08/2021 (367 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The harvest came and went in 2020, but there was no Harvest Moon Festival in tiny Clearwater, pop. 70, give or take a few.
It was the first time since the agricultural and plain-old cultural gathering started in 2002 that there was no music, no workshops, no influx of hundreds of guests to the southern community, 100 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg and not far from the U.S.-Canada border. A successful one-day event was held in Winnipeg, but the grounds in Clearwater stayed quiet as the pandemic got loud.
Now after a year-long hiatus, a rejuvenated Harvest Moon is on the horizon, set to run Sept. 17-19. A run of 500 tickets go on sale Wednesday morning at 11 a.m., reserved for patrons who’ve been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days by the festival’s start.
And those lucky ticket holders will be treated to an eclectic, stacked lineup, with 18 artists scheduled to take the stage.
There’s a little bit of everything, producer Stu Anderson says, representing a diverse range of sounds and backgrounds that should help make the festival’s 20th edition one to remember.
On deck are festival favourites Ridley Bent, Scott Nolan and Andrina Turenne; Royal Canoe, fresh off their recent album Sidelining; bluegrass quintet The Stanley County CutUps; emerging singer-songwriters Leith Ross, Ila Barker, Mason Weselowski and Fontine; folk-roots group The Sturgeons; multi-genre artist Leonard Sumner; the instrumental act Là; the pensive and upbeat stylings of Slow Leaves; DJ Boogey The Beat; local hip-hop titans the Lytics; Guilty Pleasures; The Hank Williams Lites; and Mouraine, an Alberta-based performer who’s shared the stage with some of hip-hop’s elite.
“We’re really excited with how it all came together,” says Anderson, who notes that organizers only got serious about planning the festival in the summer, once holding it became a more realistic possibility. “Normally we get together in January or February and have the lineup ready by spring.”
Though the music is a key draw, and has made Harvest Moon a consistent sellout for years, Anderson said this year’s festival, like all those before, will be about bridging rural and urban communities and building knowledge about topics such as food sustainability and production. In a drought-filled season, those conversations are top of mind across Manitoba.
Those ideas are what the festival is rooted in. “It started out with a bunch of people in a field talking about sustainability,” he says.
It’s grown into something more, with the Harvest Moon Society operating year-round in Clearwater while supporting local entities such as the curling rink and the memorial hall. The humble festival easily drew more than 1,500 guests to the community each year before the pandemic.
To start, only 500 tickets are being made available for the 2021 edition, with a limit of six tickets available per order. Weekend passes are being sold for $100, or $115 with camping.
Festival brass is considering releasing a second round of tickets, Anderson says, but a decision will be announced in the upcoming weeks.
Those hoping to attend will need to have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before the festival’s start date. “We’ve been following directions from the province and from the community of Clearwater as to what they wanted,” Anderson said.
If tickets can’t be snagged, the festival will be livestreamed in order to remain accessible to a larger crowd — a welcome holdover from last year’s live event.
Precautions will be in place throughout the festival, and festival organizers say they’re “prepared to adapt our plans as needed in the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 in Manitoba.”
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.