Sunday, 20 September 2009

Another Succesful Harvest Moon Festival - but is Bigger Always Better?

Reminding Manitobans of the Value of the Land -
by Larry Powell

This year, more people than ever descended on Clearwater, not far from the US border, transforming the tiny community into a teeming centre of live entertainment and education.

It was the 8th annual event of its kind, during the weekend of Sept. 18th.

While attendance figures aren't available, an organizer, Robert Guildford, (r.) told me, the first day was the biggest Friday ever for the festival.

The yearly event is organized by the Harvest Moon Society, a non-profit organization. Its mission is to build awareness of the contributions of farmers and farmlands to the development of vibrant rural and urban cultures.

A father enjoys the
music with his child.
An important component is education.
The Society conducts classes and workshops out of the old Clearwater School on topics such as eco-agriculture. It also hopes to develop an action plan for long-term rural sustainability, both environmental and economic. Part of the plan includes value-added processing & direct marketing to generate income for all participating community members.

The outdoor market.

(All photos by l.p.)
This would be done through ventures such as a flax and hemp seed plant, a flour mill and a local producer co-op to grow switch grass for alternative energy.

But is Bigger Always Better?

Our overall experience at the Festival was decidedly positive. However, the age-old question still needs to be asked again.
Is bigger always better?

If an attendance of, say 500 is good, is one thousand twice as good?
Let's all hope that the event (organized ironically by folks who embrace small farms as opposed to "industrial agri-biz,") does not become a victim of its own success!
I am reproducing, below, an email exchange between myself and a festival official soon after it ended. l.p.
-------Original Message-------
From: lpowell
Date: 20/09/2009 5:17:23 PM
Subject: FestivalSecurity

Hi Celia.

We attended the festival Sat. afternoon & thoroughly enjoyed it. As organic producers, we appreciate the message and idea behind the event. You have come a long way and deserve a lot of credit.

However, our experience in the quiet campground that night was somewhat different. About 4 in the morning, a group of loud partiers set up shop near the entrance.

At one point, a vehicle screeched at high speed past our tent. After some time of loud partying & amplified music, with no sign of a letup, we packed up our tent & left. We went back to the main entrance on our way out but there was no sign of any security.

While it is good to see your event grow in popularity to the point it has, it would seem your security may also need to be stepped up accordingly. (Perhaps the inclusion of a 'phone number for security on your program would be helpful.)

Thanks and and continued success in the future.


Larry & Rowena Powell
Hello Larry and Rowena,
I am so sorry this happened to you.
I want to thank you for letting us know, and we will factor this into next years festival planning for sure.
Thanks for coming to the festival, and I hope this does not prevent you from joining us again.

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