The 16th Earthwork Harvest Gathering unfurled last weekend outside Lake City with what many call a “magical celebration” of Michigan’s collaborative music scene. Musician/singer Megan Dooley describes why it was so special, with images by Anna Sink.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The 16th Earthwork Harvest Gathering drew about 3,000 people — and hundreds of Michigan musicians — to Earthwork Farm outside Lake City last weekend for more than 100 performances on four stages and unparalleled, season-ending camaraderie. Musician Joe Hertler described it as “an absolute gem.” Countless others called it “amazing.” Local Spins asked musician and frequent contributor Megan Dooley for her impressions of this special event. Check out her observations, with photos by Anna Sink. For a separate recap and photo gallery from a ‘magnificent’ Day 1 of Harvest Gathering, click here.
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SEPT. 22 UPDATE: MORE PHOTOS ADDED. SCROLL DOWN FOR GALLERIES.
There are certain times of the year that everyone looks forward to: The first really warm and beautiful day of spring, that moment when it seems like every tree is aflame with the colors of autumn, and of course, Christmas vacation, when you can settle in with your loved ones and eat until you feel like you could hibernate for a month or two.
For a special group of folks in the know, there’s another holiday weekend to look forward to all year long: Earthwork Harvest Gathering.
There’s much to be said of the three-day music festival and self-proclaimed “family reunion” that takes place in mid-September just outside Lake City.
Established and cultivated in 2001 by Seth Bernard, a widely celebrated Michigan folk music guru, the festival takes place on a 181-acre working farm owned by the Bernard family since 1977 and the inspiration for the Earthwork Music collective.
Celebrating its 16th year this past weekend, Harvest Gathering has grown from a single stage on the back of a flatbed truck to what many have dubbed a “magical celebration” of home-grown music and food boasting about 3,000 attendees, 100-plus bands and performances, an on-site farmer’s market with food from more than 40 local farms, four stages, dozens of vendors and more than 65 workshops and group activities spread throughout the acreage of this gorgeous Michigan farmland.
A REVERENCE FOR PEACE, NATURE AND COMMUNITY
Oh, and did I mention the dunk tank? There was a dunk tank where you could send your favorite musician or festival volunteer for a nice, cold dip! It was glorious.
I’ve spent more time at Harvest Gathering than any other music festival, and for good reason.
Unlike larger, more “party-oriented” weekend excursions like Electric Forest and Bonnaroo, people arrive and depart Harvest with a reverence for peace, nature and community completely unmatched by other events.
Harvesters and staff alike are resoundingly fun and respectful, keeping the farm spotless, hassle-free and invitingly supportive. Not only is the gathering a time to relax, connect with friends after a busy summer and listen to the incredible array of music that filled nearly every corner of the grounds, but it’s also a time for important conversations – coming together to take action to help protect our beautiful state, appreciating everything we have to share, and holding space for those who couldn’t join us in appreciating the beauty of it all.
I could go on and on for hours citing performances, how incredible the weather was, what a ridiculous amount of delicious food I got to eat, how unbelievably kind, supportive, respectful, fun, and amazing festival-goers and staff were, and why you should absolutely go every year, but nothing I could say would really ever come close to doing this festival justice.
It’s unlike anything I’ve ever attended and that’s why I keep going back year after year.
Sometimes, we all get a bit dragged down from the day to day grind of it all, and I look forward to Harvest Gathering all year long. Truly, Harvest helps restore my faith and reminds me that good humans are more abundant than we might think sometimes.
Honestly, if aliens landed on Earth and asked me to take them to our leaders, I would take them to Harvest Gathering instead and hope they never find Washington D.C.
PHOTO GALLERY 2: Earthwork Harvest Gathering 2016
Photos by Anna Sink
Photos by Anna Sink
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