Sacred Harvest Festival 2012 Review - Lisa Spiral
I’ve attended Sacred Harvest Festival for several years now and I have to say that the one word that describes this event is HOSPITALITY.
I first came as a local guest and did a series of workshops on Invocation and Evocation of the Gods. I was given a lot of support in preparing for the event, promotion of my workshops, and a little care package that made things easier. I felt welcomed and appreciated, which is not always the case for presenters who aren’t the “star attraction.”
When I came back the following year I was just a camper and offering a workshop. I was still treated with courtesy and respect. It was easy to find help with setting up the camp and arranging for my scheduling needs. The community support was apparent even beyond the organizers as campers shared hammers and hands and occasionally an item for the kitchen with open heartedness.
As a camper I was expected to contribute with a community work shift and I was happy to do so. Unfortunately here is where this festival falls a little short. I’ve done plenty of work shifts at events and could mostly guess at what needed to be done. However a clear set of instructions and training would have been a help.
I know that with so much going on getting a board member at each station at each shift change is unreasonable. Still someone should be on hand to explain what needs to be done, and if it’s the last shift’s volunteer there should probably be a back up in case they take off or didn’t really “get it” themselves. Even a FAQ sheet for each station would be extremely helpful.
Sadly, over my years of attending this event this problem with work shifts seems to have gotten worse rather than better. Maybe there is an assumption that I should know what I’m doing, but I’ve certainly seen plenty of people trying to man a shift without a clue.
*** See Note from Harmony Tribe at Bottom!
The site of this festival is beautiful and primitive. The organizers go out of their way to insure accessibility issues are addressed. There have been issues with the campground owners about “improvements” that seem to make things harder rather than easier on the campers. There is also an issue with noise in the surrounding community but it seems the festival organizers work hard to accommodate both drummers and neighbors.
I recommend this festival for people who are interested in community building over partying. The rituals are varied in presentation and impact and are often purpose driven rather than abandoned sprees of drumming and dancing. On the other hand the drumming and dancing when it does occur is well done. There is always room for a beginner but the core group of drummers clearly have experience and talent.
This is a festival that focuses on families. There is a strong culture of acknowledging “children being good”. The programing for children is real, not just semi-supervised playtime. There have been attempts at establishing teen space. Teen leaders are acknowledged by the camp and teens are usually welcomed at work shifts and workshops. Often the teens find themselves in important roles in the evening rituals.
Packing for primitive camping is a skill, but even here festival organizers will attempt to lend a hand even if it means a ride into town so a camper can buy a new sleeping bag. Weather in Minnesota is unpredictable even in August. I’ve seen days at this camp in the 100’s and nights in the high 30’s. With a week or more at the site rain is bound to happen at least once, and sometimes most of the week. There are tarps and fires establishing places for the community to gather when the campsites are not quite homey.
Festival food is always an “iffy” thing but here again the organizers go out of their way to find a cook who can accommodate odd diets with healthy food at a reasonable price. Even those of us who are comfortable with a camp kitchen will often find our way to the food shack for a snack or even a meal and a break from dishes. If you are asked to be a guest consider negotiating food tickets into your fee! It’s well worth it.
All in all this is a really well run festival. Because it’s not an enormous event the guests are often easier to truly interact with. The community feel is real and many attendee’s are Harmony Tribe members that have been coming for years. The camping conditions and joyful community obligation may be difficult for someone just looking for a good time. The genuine hospitality and open hearted acceptance of the wide ranging community in both age and expression is worth it.
Lisa Spiral is the author of Manifest Divinity an exploration of the ways the Divine manifests in our daily lives. She is a Wiccan High Priestess and has been active in the Twin Cities Pagan community for over 30 years. She can be heard via streamed radio the first Friday of the month on the Priestess Show at paganstonight.com
*** Harmony Tribe has analyzed the problems with our registration and community service programs and has revamped them! Registration will take place at the festival entrance, to separate it from the hub-bub of our information and sales booth. Community service is re-organized and reduced to two shifts for week long, and one shift for weekend festivants. Work shift training and fact sheets for each task will be available at this years festival! HT values your feedback, listens, changes, and wants to always be improving your festival experience!