Largest Upper Midwest Pagan Festival opens in 10 days! – Interview

Sacred Harvest Festival (SHF), located in southern Minnesota near Albert Lea, opens Saturday, August 6th, The last day to register online  and before gate rates is Sunday, July 31st.  I had the chance to interview Bress Nicneven, festival site director and board member of Harmony Tribe , the event’s sponsor.

Why do people continue to return to Sacred Harvest Festival?

SHF has gained a national reputation for quality and timely speakers and musicians. Celia’s video for the song ‘ Symbol’ was filmed at SHF, before the Pentacle Quest  became a household Pagan word. It is known for having a defined theme each year, and presenting profound rituals and speakers that all build on that theme for a complete experience. One of the few festivals that does this each year. In stressful financial times, this festival offers the cheapest per day rates of any festival in the country for the quality of the programming and activities.

It is a really reasonable family vacation for Pagans. It is an upper Midwest tradition, going on 14 years. SHF is really a place for everybody. There is a Kid’s cauldron, operated by parents and volunteers, that keeps kids happy all week. Families get the time and space to worship together as a family. They get time together and also adults have time for individual experiences. It is really strengthening for both families, individuals, and our community relationships. We have a great location in a shady oak grove with easy access from Des Moines, Madison, and the Twin Cities.

What is this year’s theme about?

Forest Family, Roots and Branches Intertwined  is our theme this year. It encompasses the roots of the Tribe itself, the thousands of people who have grown this festival over the years. We come each year to celebrate at this magical grove, and this year we specifically want to connect with the marvelous shady and protective trees there. Trees are an appropriate symbol of how we are also all connected, and essentially like the forest that we camp under. Like the burr oaks, we are still growing, and changing, and each season together we reach out within the festival and our home communities to integrate our spiritual experience back into our foundation, our roots.

What do people get from the festival?

The answer is as varied as the individuals who attend. We welcome everyone, whether you see yourself as a seasoned witch, a solitary practitioner looking for exposure to a broad range of worship; or a small family group that only worships together. We always attract some people just beginning to explore their spiritual self, and this often leads to their becoming a part of our community. You see the true beauty, and power, and love that is shared when total strangers gather in our grove for the same positive intent; to gather together in nature to worship, as we were born to do.

Any new activities this year?

SHF Guest Crystal Blanton

This year we will have a “What day?”, midweek. A special day of community where we will relax and reach out to each other in a spirit of giving. Gifts of our fruits will be offered, and we will enjoy community feasting. We will have a day of drum and dance workshops, and celebration. An evening “Hafla”  for our many fine dancers. It will be a day of just fun, and contributing what each of us can, and learning about the rest! It is also the day we welcome midweek * festivants.

As always, we have great guests  and musical performers to entertain and inspire you through out the week. This year Celia returns, having established a national reputation as a premier pagan performer.

What features are returning this year to SHF?

We have had the Sacred Hunt Ritual  for many years, and that continues. It has become a tradition to host this ritual of sacred experience that has broadened to involve most of our community. The Rangoli  has become a favorite, as a cherished trance dance experience for self empowerment. It raises a lot of energy communally, that is felt by all within our grove. The Gamelan orchestra as a ritual experience and performance is back, after further refinement at 2011 Pagan Spirit Gathering.  It is a great opportunity for festivants to explore music as a personal magical tool, even with no experience.

What is new about the site?

We are trying to facilitate a more communal aspect at the Heart Chakra, by increasing its use and activities. We are using the new shower facilities built at the site over the last few years. We have negotiated a special 40% discount off these ‘fee for service’ showers, for this event. We also encourage festivants to bring their own campsite appropriate shower tools. The Teen camp will continue, but not as a residential overnight camp. Teens will have the same dedicated space to hang together round a fire, but will return to their family camp to sleep.

When does registration close?

Advance, online registration closes on Monday, August 1st , and our rates increase to an additional gate based rate. You can register at the gate, if you arrive during gate hours (9am-9pm Sun-Sat).  After August 1st you can still register online but you must print and bring along your registration to speed your gate entry. No credit card payment will be available at the gate.

Nels Linde (read about)

Editor’s Note: The PNC-MN has purchased a booth at SHF, and has been welcomed by Harmony Tribe to provide coverage of this regional event.

* The word festivant was created by well-known SHF ritualist, Judith Olson-Linde in 2005 as a time-saving measure when typing rituals. The term has been taken up by the SHF community and has been absorbed into regional usage.

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