Harvest Moon Fest generates warmth on weather-challenged weekend

“Mooners” enjoyed great music despite the inclement weather last weekend. /PHOTO: Noah Erenberg

A chilly, wet, and often blustery weekend bore down on Clearwater, Manitoba, Sept. 15 through 17, as it hosted the Harvest Moon festival.

The perennial fest could have been a washout, thanks to autumn-like temperatures, incessant drizzle, and winds that turned umbrellas inside out and caused trailers to tremble (never mind tents).

But the spirits of crowds of devoted “Mooners” weren’t dampened by the rain—they just danced even harder.

Woodshed Havoc performed on the restaurant stage. /PHOTO: Noah Erenberg

“The key was to keep moving and keep your feet dry,” said Colette Havens, who attended Harvest Moon last weekend with her six-year-old daughter Clara. It was Colette’s fourth Harvest Moon and Clara’s first.

“The [bon]fires were going strong, and we were grateful to the team of volunteers who work hard to keep them going,” Havens said. “We ‘roasted’ socks over the fire to make sure we could keep our feet dry and wore lots and lots of layers.”

Bonfires were burning all weekend. /PHOTO: Noah Erenberg

Festival organizers made some last-minute weather accommodations to keep Mooners as dry and comfortable as possible: Friday night music was moved indoors to a local hockey rink (Saturday and Sunday music resumed at outdoor stages); some workshops also moved inside to the community hall, along with the children’s craft and activity area.

“It was great to have a bit of reprieve by going into the hall to the kids’ area,” mentioned Havens. Here, a vast assortment of crafts kept an even larger assortment of kids happy.

Friday night’s concert was moved indoors into the local hockey arena. /PHOTO: Noah Erenberg

There were other, more subtle modifications made at the festival for both patrons and volunteers.

“I was kind of curious whether anyone would show up,” said Cheryl Cohan of the outdoor Mindfulness Meditation workshop that she guided Saturday morning.

Indeed, 15-or-so morning Mooners attended the meditation, and to keep them comfortable, “we were given a [canopy] tent [which] we were able to sit under,” Cohan said. She could then host the workshop outside, as planned, despite the drizzling rain.

“It was great,” enthused Cohan.

In addition to the informative workshops, music on the main stage was solid throughout the weekend, like this Saturday night dance party lead by the Dirty Catfish Brass Band. /PHOTO: Noah Erenberg

Colette Havens also enthused, about the festival in general.

“Harvest Moon has a strong community of hearty folks, and it was really inspiring to see so many people coming together to share resources to stay dry and warm, to ensure everyone had a positive festival experience,” she said.

And here’s the magical part: autumn winds may now blow, but the warmth generated at Harvest Moon fest seems to linger afterward.

“It warms my heart to see so many dedicated volunteers and patrons taking care of each other to preserve an important event that educates and inspires a community to live sustainably and enjoy life, no matter what the weather may bring!” said Havens. Enough said.

Sunday morning’s pancake breakfast inside Clearwater Community Hall featured entertainment by Louis Riel Gentlemen’s Choir. /PHOTO: Noah Erenberg

Tips for staying warm and dry during challenging Harvest Moon weather

  • Check out the yard sales – Clearwater locals selling crafts, garage sale items, and produce from their gardens. Witnessed HMF-’17 yard-sale scores: a pair of new, hand-knit slippers ($1) to warm feet inside rubber boots (plus several hats from the same seller [costing a bit more than the slippers, but still a bargain]); a pair of second-hand mittens ($1) from a local outdoor estate sale.
  • Visit the firepits often—they’re large, impressively hot, and provide an option for drying soggy stuff. Just don’t get too close. One witness was overheard describing his bonfire-melted rain pants. Note: Three-pronged hot-dog skewers are effective for roasting (as also witnessed) sopping socks or other smaller items (besides marshmallows).
  • Explore the local general store, Clearwater Country Market – a great source of all kinds of necessities from fresh cinnamon buns, to satisfactory coffee (even coffee snobs can use the cup of steaming beverage to warm their hands), to regular groceries, including dogfood (for patrons who remember Dewey but forget his kibbles), to duct tape (for taping-up torn rain ponchos, tents, and such), to large selection of everyday groceries.
  • Must-have clothing for cold, rainy festival weather: winter jacket, umbrella or rain poncho, toque, rubber boots, rain pants, several pairs of mitts/gloves (or one good, waterproof pair), several pairs of socks.
  • Follow this recipe for feeling almost-warm camping in a tent: Place 1 down duvet and 2 wool blankets over a flannel bedsheet-covered air mattress, which sits well aboveground. Add unzipped sleeping bag overtop, and a sweater over your warmest PJs. Slide in. (Campers in trailers can scale back on the warm bedding just a bit – but why? If you don’t use the extra blanket, someone will).
  • “Bring willingness to be in whatever kind of weather mother nature has in store,” said Havens. Then, “you pretty much have everything you need to enjoy the richness that Harvest Moon has to offer.”

L-R: Dianne Rondeau and Linda Rost were prepared for cold, rainy weather. /PHOTO: Noah Erenberg

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