August 7th – 15th members of the PNC-Minnesota will be attending and providing interviews and news coverage of the Sacred Harvest Festival – an Earth-based spiritualist camping festival held in a private campground located in southern MN. I have to confess, attending the Sacred Harvest Festival with its active, close-knit community and excellent workshops and entertainment is one of the highlights of my year. Add to that magnificent old oak trees, a secluded feeling location, and cool breezes from a picturesque lake and it is very much like how I picture Elysium to be.
To give a preview of what attendees can expect at this year’s festival the PNC spoke with Benjamin Davis, President of Harmony Tribe. Harmony Tribe is the the 317A non-profit volunteer group that organizes the Sacred Harvest Festival.
PNC-Minnesota: How long have you been a part of Harmony Tribe and how long have you been on the board?
Benjamin: This is my 5th year on the Board of Harmony Tribe. I was the Communications Director for 3 years, the Vice-Chair last year, and the President this year.
PNC-Minnesota: How many Sacred Harvest Festivals have you attended?
Benjamin: I have attended the festival 7 times in the last 13 years.
PNC-Minnesota: All of us at the PNC-Minnesota have attended the Sacred Harvest Festival and we keep coming back for more. Why do you think people love the SHF so much?
Benjamin: Sacred Harvest Festival is one of the most family-friendly pagan festivals in existence. Fully 1/3 of our attendees every year are under the age of 18. We have a full schedule of workshops in our Kid’s Cauldron area for children under 12, and Teen Camp for kids age 13 to 17. Our rates on a per day basis are some of the least expensive you will find, and our “Clan Plan” (you pay for two adults and two children, any additional children come for free) continues to be popular.
PNC-Minnesota: So what will attendees experience that is new or different this year than previous years?
Benjamin: There is only one scheduled ritual that remains the same this year as last year: The Sacred Hunt Ritual. We have one ritual that is scheduled yearly that changes based on the theme, all other rituals change completely from year to year.
PNC-Minnesota: Are there any workshops, speakers or performers you are especially excited about?
Benjamin: Sacred Harvest Festival’s theme this year is “Seducing the Muse” and is about the creative process and the Greek muses. Our guest speakers include authors, a sculptor, an art professor and performance artist, a graphic artist, a dancer, and several musicians. It’s difficult to chose one or two to be “especially excited about” when there is such quality and variety.
PNC-Minnesota: Do you have any special tips on making the most of your SHF experience?
Benjamin: Pace yourself. 9 days is a long festival, and as an organizer I want everyone to feel like they have had a vacation and a chance to meet all the other attendees. We intentionally limit the amount of workshops and activities on Wednesday (the middle day of the festival) to allow folks a bit of a rest and recuperation period.
PNC-Minnesota: You’ve attended quite a few festivals. What’s your favorite SHF memory?
Benjamin: I think the one that best exemplifies what our festival is like happened at the Talent Show last year:
We had an 11 year old get up to sing Celia Ferran’s “The Symbol Song” as her talent. Dusk had fallen, and the lights on the stage meant that it was nearly impossible to see the audience of over 200 people when you were up there.
She began well but her volume was rather soft, and everyone in the audience became quiet in an effort to hear her.
From her perspective, not being able to see anyone, she thought she wasn’t getting a response because the audience didn’t like what she was doing. The audience, meanwhile, was holding it’s collective breath. Her voice began to crack in the second verse.
Realizing what was happening, the MC of the show stepped into the pool of light just off-stage and began to clap in time to her singing. The audience picked it up. One of the musicians at the festival jumped up with his guitar and began to play along with her, and her voice steadied.
She finished strong, with the support of the community surrounding her.
PNC-Minnesota: I remember that. We were all pulling for her. What started as a performance ended as profound community moment. If people would like to attend, but haven’t yet registered, is there a way they can still attend?
Benjamin: Our pre-registration period ends on August 1st, but attendees are still welcome to register at the gate. Rates and information are available on our website: www.harmonytribe.org