If you're considering a last-minute road trip to this weekend's Harvest Moon Festival, you're out of luck.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/9/2015 (2192 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If you're considering a last-minute road trip to this weekend's Harvest Moon Festival, you're out of luck.

The 14th music and food-education festival in Clearwater is sold out, and organizers are thrilled there will be capacity crowds for the third straight year.

The event in Clearwater -- about 200 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg near the Canada-U.S. border -- has been described as a "glorified picnic," that has evolved and developed along with the decade-old international right-to-food movement.

At its essence, the movement declares food is a human right and people must be able feed themselves in dignity. More than 150 nations have signed a covenant affirming that right.

A steady rise in attendance -- from 100 people in its first year to 1,500 this year -- is a testament to the growing number of Manitobans who are taking an interest in the ways food gets to their tables.

"With access to information and media, it's easier to get a handle around what the issues are with food production, so I think people have steadily become more aware of some of the problematic ways of expanding production and the impact that has on traditional ways of living and farming, and that strikes a chord with people," says festival volunteer co-ordinator Cory Bellhouse. "People want to know where their food is coming from and they recognize the whole chain of production that goes into it has been a lifestyle for farmers for centuries."

The festival is the main fundraiser for the Harvest Moon Society, a volunteer-run organization that promotes sustainable living, secure farming practices and runs year-round education initiatives. Workshops and information sessions will be available for festival goers, or "mooners," to attend each day.

Though the agricultural education aspect is a big part of the weekend, Bellhouse says the music is equally important to its success. The two parts work in lockstep, he says, and those who program the music take great care in providing a balance that caters to the event's diverse demographics.

Some faithful mooners attend every year, but other people wait until the the musical lineup is announced before committing to the long drive.

Local favourites the Bros. Landreth, Dirty Catfish Brass Band, Attica Riots, Mise en Scene, Greg MacPherson and the Reverend Rambler, are among the scheduled performers.

Keri Latimer, one-half of the Winnipeg-based roots duo Leaf Rapids, performed at the first Harvest Moon Festival in 2002 when she was a member of Nathan, and has either performed or attended almost every year since. Leaf Rapids is in the Saturday afternoon lineup this year.

She has seen the festival grow -- particularly the number of campers -- and fondly remembers her first performance on the back of a flatbed truck for about 100 people. The community environment of the festival is a major draw for Latimer and her family, as is the opportunity to be educated about food production and a way of life that is less reliant on technology.

"We've gotten to know a lot of the people that go regularly and just being a part of that sustainable earthy feel makes us feel really good," she says.

"I learn a lot every year, too, about where we get our food and how I can shop better for our family."

Harvest Moon relies on more than 130 volunteers to help keep things running.

"We're just beginning to untangle that, but we're trying to develop a longer-term strategy so that people can feel comfortable reporting things that happen that are not OK," says Bellhouse.

"The festival has grown a lot over the years but we've tried to maintain the same safe community feel."

Music starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, and the festival wraps up on Sunday afternoon. More information, including the full music and workshop schedules, can be found at harvestmoonfestival.ca.

Erin.lebar@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @Nirerabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Manager of audience engagement for news

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

   Read full biography