Music, fair trade festival rocks Clearwater, Manitoba
Jen Doerksen, BEAT REPORTER
Andrew Bart, CONTRIBUTOR
A rural Manitoba town of 65 people invites nearly 1,500 to learn about local organic lifestyle and partying.
From September 16-18, Clearwater hosted Harvest Moon Festival’s 15th year of creating and celebrating local organic culture with live music, educational workshops, a farmers market and a fair trade market.
“The workshops are awesome. That’s what I want to do,” said Paul Des Brisay of the Riel Gentleman’s Choir. “I love the do-it-yourself ones. I want to check out the beekeeping one today.”
Talie Polischuk, 27, is a leatherworker and illustrator that creates detailed leather accessories for her shop Zococo.
“This is the ideal environment for me. I’ve been doing this full time for a year. Farmer’s markets and Christmas craft sales are great but festivals where my work really fits. It nice to make a living doing art,” she said.
The mix of workshops, music and food attracts attendees of all ages. The festival campground was home to about 1,200 people over the weekend. Many performers camped with festival attendees.
Micah Erenberg, 23, camped and performed with his band called the Micah Erenberg Band, and Kieran West & His Buffalo Band.
“I played here in 2007, when I was 15. There are twice as many people here now.”
Erenberg said it’s one of his favourite festivals because of the cooler weather and the amazing food.
The festival is a fundraiser for the Harvest Moon Society, a community committed to producing local, sustainable food systems. They are part of a larger network of farms that provide home delivery of fresh food in Manitoba.
Lead organizer Chris Lillies, 46, said the festival started with “a bunch of oddballs flocking together.”
He said the organizers of the event linked together while making a documentary on genetically modified foods versus organic foods. He said the intention of the festival is to educate people on sustainable, local food options while providing entertainment and access to ethically sourced goods.
“We’re trying to do something with a purpose for the next generation,” Lillies said.
Three stages offered a variety of music options on Saturday afternoon. One was behind the local restaurant. Another small stage, meant for impromptu jams, was out by the garden. The main stage faced the few acres of campground, across the road from the restaurant.
Fair trade and farmers market vendors set up on the street between the restaurant and the garden. The Harvest Moon community centre between the garden and the road held workshops throughout Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Some workshops took place in the field just outside.
Joseph Wasylycia-Leis, 27, ran a workshop on electoral reform.
“People seemed pleased that we provided education on electoral reform and space for discussion, like letting people explore the issue.”
Wasylycia-Leis wrote a Masters thesis on using music festivals as a vehicle for social change in 2016. He used Harvest Moon Festival as a case study.
“With Harvest Moon… it’s sort of the living embodiment of post-global capitalist community organization,” he said. “You have people coming together bound by place and identity, who care deeply about each other, and provides all sorts of opportunity for alternative economic development.”