Canby tribute band festival bigger than ever, adds family-friendly Sunday
Get out your eyeliner, hairspray and stonewashed jeans. It's Harefest time. And this year, for one day only, you can even bring your kids along.
The 1980s tribute band festival, located in Canby's backyard at Pat's Acres Racing Complex, is in its eighth year and is anticipated to be bigger than ever. Harefest8 expands to three days, July 12-14, and features 22 bands, multiple VIP areas and a Ferris wheel, which they're calling "The Big Wheel in the Sky" (note the Journey song reference in keeping with the theme).
Plus, organizers are adding Harefest for All on Sunday, July 15, a family-friendly fundraising event with all proceeds going to the Children's Cancer Association.
"At the end of the day, it's so much fun to see people enjoying themselves," said Harefest Founder Joan Monen. "So by adding more days, we're hopefully going to get more people enjoying themselves."
The festival is co-produced by Monen of Wild Hare Saloon, a restaurant with Canby and Oregon City locations and Jason Fellman of J-Fell Presents, promoter of tribute band concerts in the Northwest.
Harefest began in 2010 as a one-night tribute band concert on the Wild Hare's back lawn with three bands, including Fellman's Journey tribute band Stone in Love. Approximately 500 people showed up.
"Because of that success, it was like, oh let's do this thing again, and that kind of began the formalizing into Harefest," said Kyle Lang, Canby Area Chamber of Commerce director and former manager at Wild Hare.
After a few years, the festival outgrew the space and had to move, but organizers wanted to keep it in Canby; so they moved it to Pat's Acres, where they could add campsites on the race track.
"We moved it down to Pat's Acres and then created the overnight experience with the real festival feel to it…where people can go to sleep with dirty feet and stuff like that," Monen said.
This year, Fellman said they are anticipating 10,000 people over the course of the four days.
Bands include Eagle Eyes (The Eagles), Queen Nation (Queen), Aerosmith Rocks (Aerosmith), Steelhorse (Bon Jovi), Petty Fever (Tom Petty), Fellman's band Stone in Love (Journey), and more.
Along with bands, camping and the Ferris wheel, the festival also features misting stations, free cold water stations, a photo stage (a smaller version of the main stage specifically for ticket holder photo ops with and without the festival performers), "Big Hare Station" for ticket holders to get a 1980s hair styling, a merchandise tent selling Harefest and band apparel and food and drink vendors.
"It's just really darn fun," Fellman said. "It's like summer camp for grownups. The bands are outstanding, the production is excellent, the food/drink options are excellent (and reasonably priced), the concertgoers are friendly and festive and there's a magical feeling of nostalgia and revelry in the air that is truly unique to Harefest."
The nostalgia comes not only from the music and the bands getting into character, but also from event-goers joining in on the dress-up.
"The people-watching is extraordinary," Lang said. "You know, they have hair dressers onsite that give people the big sprayed-up '80s hairdos. People dress in kind of throwback outfits…It's just a really community-based, fun-loving event."
As a community-based event, Lang and the Chamber of Commerce will be working the information booth and driving concertgoers to Canby businesses.
After three days of adult fun, Harefest for All comes along on Sunday. The new family-friendly day comes as a result of feedback Fellman and Monen have often received from attendees saying they want to introduce their kids to this music. The co-producers also wanted a way to give back to the community.
So on Sunday, the bands will play, but organizers will also open up Pat's 50-mph Go Karts and throw in tons of kids' activities including special appearances by Portland Timbers mascot Timber Joey, Star Wars Oregon, Smokey the Bear and Sparky the Fire Dog; a Kids Zone with activities from Oregon Outdoor School; and the Wild Hair Camas doing rock star hair, makeup and temporary tats for the photo stage.
All proceeds from Harefest for All go to the Children's Cancer Association, an organization Monen has been involved with for years. One of their programs, MyMusicRx, takes music into the hospitals to get children's minds off of their illness.
"We are honored to be chosen as the beneficiaries of Harefest as we wholeheartedly believe music is a powerful medicine," said Regina Ellis, founder and chief joy officer at the CCA. "We are delighted by the generosity and look forward to sharing the experience with the kids and families at Harefest for All."
In addition to Harefest for All proceeds going to the organization, attendees can donate all festival-long at the merchandise tent.
Ticket prices for Harefest8 are $40-60 for one day or $175 for all. Tickets for Harefest for All are $40 for adults, $20 for kids ages 7-17 and free for kids 6 and under. A family 4-pack for two adults and two kids is available for $90.
Gates open at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 12, 3 p.m. on Friday, 12 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday.
To purchase tickets and campsites and for a detailed schedule, visit harefest.com.