The 16th “perennial” Harvest Moon Festival took place in the beautiful town of Clearwater over the weekend of Sept. 15-17th.
With gusting winds, rain, and hundreds of scattered attendees, the provincially-famous festival made it very clear that arts, culture, inclusivity, peace, supporting local everything, and community growth is just too damn important to not celebrate by persisting through the miserable weather, no matter how many tents go tumbling past town hall.
The three-day festival was an impressive showcase of courage, support, and love for Manitoba craft. Friday night of the festival started out with relentless winds and scattered showers causing organizers to get creative and quick.
Slowly, people started noticing festival attendees carrying trees and various plants toward the RV parking section to create their own makeshift pop-up stage. The organizers made their Plan B a reality, featuring all the scheduled acts, almost perfectly on-time, in the local hockey rink.
How Canadian can it get? More Canadian, I promise.
The festival featured many workshops throughout the weekend, endless local goods at the pop-up farmers market, and even a homestyle breakfast buffet hosted by the only restaurant in town.
It was a weekend for warriors.
The dreary weather continued through Saturday, as the swarms of soggy, messy-haired harvesters crowded Café Postal’s booth in search of warmth through the fresh roasted grounds.
Few were quitting, and everyone was optimistic – at least once they warmed up.
By the late evening, everyone was in full festival mode, raincoats traded in for onesies, thermoses changed to solo cups, and rain boots turned to… dancing boots.
Seriously, “the show must go on” is an understatement.
Local volunteers provided perogies, cheeseburgers, and a fully stocked bar with very reasonable pricing.
Multiple community fire pits lit up the back of a massive crowd where local jazz-hip hop fusion heavyweights Super Duty Tough Work heckled and cajoled the audience into waving their arms in the air, chanting, and dancing.
Eventually the frontman even crowd surfed – a personal festival highlight.
Veterans of the popular Soul Night at The Cavern in Winnipeg, Dr. Hotbottom, blew everyone away yet again.
Capping off the night, the unofficial headliners Riel Gentlemen’s Choir put on a triumphant performance in the campground, featuring giant fluorescent bumblebees. What a night.
Sunday was a bit more relaxed, especially to those who woke up relieved to see that the sun was shining finally.
As everyone contemplated the similarities between their brains and the freshly cooked scrambled eggs, more local acts performed all day at the restaurant stage.
Discussing the wild weather and reveling in their perseverance, the masses of young enthusiasts slowly dwindled. Harvest Moon 2017 ended with relief but not in disappointment.