The Christie Lake Conservation Area hosted almost 5000 people who attended the first ever Greenbelt Harvest Festival this Saturday.
People came in from as far away as London to attend this festival that many in attendance described as friendly and laid back.
Melanie Olds, who spent the day alternating between playing frisbee, barbecuing, listening to music and swimming, arrived with her 20 of her friends from Hamilton on a limo bus.
“Everybody is very friendly here, everybody is social. It’s a very relaxed and mellow festival.”
~ Melanie Olds
“Just the idea that it was all about local farmers and the greenbelt and really attracted a lot of attention,” said Olds, who was having a great time at the festival. “Everybody is very friendly here, everybody is social. It’s a very relaxed and mellow festival.”
One of her festival favourites was a local Hamilton band, The Reason.
Adam White of The Reason also loved the atmosphere of the festival.
“You can bring your beer anywhere you want, you can bring a lawn chair, cooler and your own food from home. Everyone is respectable of one another and everyone’s just here to have a great day,” said White.
“It’s a real sense of community,” added White. “We’ve played at 14 festivals this summer and this probably the most positive vibes that we’ve felt.”
He was happy to see a lot of regulars who had been coming out to their performances since they formed in 2003 and to get “big grocery bag of local produce” for his refrigerator.
Indeed, the local farming and food was a favourite amongst many festival attendees.
“[There are] really nice vendors, not your typical deep fried stuff,” said Olds.
White also felt the same way.
“It’s usually pizza truck, funnel cake and hot dog stand,” said White. ”Today there’s so many options for people to eat.”
Scott Miller from Hamilton felt the event was different from other festivals he had been to as it was educational.
“This one is more agriculture involved,” said Miller. “It’s all about the greenbelt and the farming stuff.”
He had been walking around and sampling the food with Tisha Sammut who enjoyed the organic food.
“[It’s] hard to find them,” said Sammut. “This makes it a little more accessible for everybody.”
Jill Flechl from Waterhall Farms in Strabane Ontario, was happy to educate people on “how we can grow [food] organically without pesticide and herbicide and give a good product to the people for a good price.”
“We have to show that we don’t want our produce and sold to us offshore,” said Flechl. “We want to grow it here on our own land.”
Jean Paul Gauthier from September 7th Entertainment, who organized the festival, thought it was important to promote local farming as a way of reducing carbon footprint by eating food grown closer to home.
He also felt that the event could serve as a media outlet for the farmers, “having them on site as a vendor, promoting them on the web site, having them in the press conferences, on stage speaking to the people.”
“The promotion and marketing leading up to it and after it allows it to resonate over a much more broader time frame,” added Gauthier.
As the sun set on the festival, the centre stage started to draw most of the crowd, first with performances by Daniel Lanois, Emmylou Harris and finally the headline act, Ray LaMontagne.
“He’s incredibly talented and has the most beautiful voice,” said Laurie Annett who came all the way from London to listen to LaMontagne. “It’s all about the writing of the song and how he communicates it.”
Meg Miller, from Guelph, agreed.
“All the musicians are really talented, but Ray, we love him diehard.”