So, the whole time I was at the second annual Harvest of Hope Fest last weekend I couldn’t help but constantly compare it to the last year’s HOH Fest – and how much more fun and organized it was this year!
Admittedly, last year’s event was the fledgling of (what is now) a series of annual HOH Festivals, and, of course, first runs are always a bit rickety. It was surprising to me to discover that the festival did not make any money last year. It’s strange to think that an event in the name of charity doesn’t actually raise funds for its cause, but after some discussions and research, it turns out that most festivals don’t in fact make it in the black their first years. So, I guess we can view last year’s festival as a kind of “trial run” that was really meant to raise awareness for migrant farm workers, the Harvest of Hope Foundation and future HOH Festivals. In this regard, last year was a huge success. I think all of NE Florida now knows about the HOH Foundation and Festivals.
But let’s get down to the gritty, shall we? Last year’s festival was chock-full of Gainesville punk bands like Against Me! and Less Than Jake (click here to check out the interview I did with Less Than Jake last year), and, really, appropriately so considering HOH’s connection with Gainesville punk label, No Idea Records, and the socially-progressive theme of the festival. But the destructive anarchy of punk rock came out of the fans camping at the festival as well last year when a large group of tattered and drunk punks tore down cardboard signs and pieces of wood, lit the pile on fire and danced around it for hours in the middle of the dirt-pit camp site chanting charming tunes like “Fuck the Police” while the surplus of hired security watched with their walkie-talkies handy ready for these kids to burn down half of St. Johns County. And who said “punk’s dead?”
This year was chiller and less… angry. To start, the downpour on Friday night that cut Dr. Dog off halfway through their set and flooded everyone’s tents seemed to cool the heads of the firebrands. Of course, the rain didn’t stop Dead Prez from finishing out his set, but to be fair, all the equipment he had on stage was two turntables and a microphone, which is harder to ruin than four guitars, a drum set and numerous amps. Thankfully, the rain avoided us the rest of the weekend, and everyone was free to enjoy the shining sun and lineup of great, albeit many unknown, acts. Personally, I was much more excited about the headliners this year – I would take Broken Social Scene and Man Man over The National and Propagandhi any day.
Even the organization of the festival was much tighter this year. The campgrounds weren’t swarming with security guards, VIP and press got free parking (yay for being a part of the media!) and instead of waiting around to see if our band interviews would get the green light, bands like Matt Pond PA, Man Man and Mucca Pazza held press conference-style interviews.
I’m still trying to find out whether last weekend’s HOH Fest made any money for migrant farm workers, but it’s clear that awareness has been raised and lots of fun was had, if nothing else.
Stay posted to St. Aug News for more on last weekend’s HOH Fest including interviews with Look Mexico, Man Man and Matt Pond PA.
For more info about the Harvest of Hope Foundation, its work with migrant farm workers and the HOH Festival visit www.harvestofhope.net.