For the first time in a decade, there will be no Harefest in Canby this summer. Organizers actually made the call earlier this week to cancel the “mother of all tribute band festivals,” which was going to be held at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds for the first time this year, but they hadn’t planned to announce the sad news until early next week.
But the governor’s press conference Thursday, at which she announced that large gatherings such as concerts and festivals must be canceled through at least September, forced their hand a bit.
Tribute artist and promoter Jason Fellman, who owns and coordinates the annual festival with Joan Monen, of the Wild Hare Saloon in Canby and Oregon City, made things official in a live Facebook video Thursday afternoon.
“Most of you have probably already seen the announcement that came out this morning, that large-scale events are not going to be permitted in Oregon through September,” he said, wearing a Harefest T-shirt and hat. “So, obviously, that means Harefest 10 is not going to be taking place this summer.”
The event will be postponed, he said.
“Obviously, we’re really bummed about that,” he admitted. “I think a lot of people are bummed about that, but we’re just one of a bazillion folks who are experiencing this right now. We’re a music festival, and it hurts, but there are a lot of people out there who have a much worse situation. … Not a ‘poor me’ situation; we’re with everybody here.”
Those who have already purchased tickets will have the choice of getting a refund or rolling their reservation over until next year. For those who are financially able, organizers do ask that you consider the roll-over option to help the festival weather the canceled summer.
“We know people are struggling, and if you need to get that money back to take care of your family or your loved ones, we completely understand,” he said. “By the same token, we are going to strongly encourage and even implore folks to keep your tickets for next year.”
Ticket-holders will receive further information about refunds through email next week.
Fellman also acknowledged the growing divisiveness of the reopening question, as well as the governor’s decision to basically cancel Oregon’s summer before it even began.
“We encourage healthy debate and all that but please, let’s keep it cool with one another in the Harefest threads,” he said. “You know, we’re not making a political statement, one way or another. We’re following the rules. We have no choice.
“And we want to do what’s safe for everyone. We’re not scientists; we’re not politicians. We’re just people who produce a really good time for you guys.”
The brainchild of Monen and Fellman, who’s also the drummer for Journey tribute band Stone in Love (the only act to play the festival all nine years), Harefest started in the field next to the Wild Hare in Canby, where it spent its first four years.
For the next five, the festival was put on at Pat’s Acres outside of time. This year’s homecoming to the Clackamas County Fairgrounds had been orchestrated for Harefest 10.
The homecoming will still happen, as will Harefest 10. It will just take a little longer than we had all hoped.
“Hopefully, this all blows over and we can get back to doing live music as soon as possible,” Fellman said. “I know we’d all love to be together and enjoy the music. … In the meantime, be good to one another. Stay safe out there. Let’s get through this together, and have some fun on the other end.”
Photo by Greg Earl Thomas.