Harefest returned to the Canby area this weekend after a two-year break due to Covid-19. Affectionately billed as the “Mother of All Tribute Festivals,” the 10-year anniversary celebration that wound up being 12 years in the making was everything that it promised to be.
Appropriately, the two-day festival kicked off at 5 p.m. Friday with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-themed tribute act Petty Fever’s rendition of “The Waiting (Is the Hardest Part).”
All weekend, big hair, leather pants, chains, smoke, top hats and lots and lots of classic rock n’ roll were on display at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds and Events Center — the festival’s new home after starting out in the field outside the Wild Hare Saloon in Canby in 2010 and growing into a major regional festival over the course of five years at Pat’s Acres Racing Complex.
“We had always planned for the 10th edition to be something special,” said Jason Fellman — founder of J-Fell Presents, which runs the festival, and co-founder of Harefest with Wild Hare owner Joan Monen.
“The rate of growth over the first nine events really confirmed the excitement and relationship that this community has for the whole experience. It was almost a blessing in disguise to have more time to imagine new ways to make it bigger.”
The festival spotlighted two dozen of the best tribute artists in the country, whose performances alternated between two stages to minimize downtime.
The jam-packed included Shoot to Thrill (AC/DC), Stone in Love (Journey), Hysteria (Def Leppard), Appetite for Deception (Guns N’ Roses), Eagle Eyes, Barracuda (Heart), Dr. Crue, Crazy Train (Black Sabbath), Jukebox Heroes (Foreigner), Grand Royale (Beastie Boys), Motorbreath (Metallica), Randy Hansen (Jimi Hendrix), Fortunate Son (CCR) and Lovedrive (Scorpions).
A food court featuring local and visiting restaurants and food vendors was staged on site, while a new wristband and cashless card system helped keep drink and merchandise lines short despite the crowds of 4,000 to 5,000 that attended each day of the festival.
Harefest also hosted an expansive overnight area accommodating 300 RVs (the spots for which sold out during the original run-up to the 2020 event) and hundreds of camping and glamping sites.
Nightly after-parties with the music of ’70s and ’80s cover bands, an enhanced VIP area and a Saturday morning brunch featuring Fleetwood Mac tribute Taken By The Sky added to the immersive, weekend-spanning, 21-and-up experience.
Fellman said the event’s long-awaited debut at the fairgrounds seemed to be well received by community members, local attendees and the festival’s die-hard following of classic rock fans across the Pacific Northwest.
“We received a tremendous amount of positive feedback about our new location at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds,” he said. “Everything really came together for a magical 10-year anniversary for Harefest. The bands were in top form and the fans showed up ready to rock.”
It felt “amazing” to be back after the two-year hiatus, Fellman added.
“I think a lot of us needed this a bit more than we realized,” he said.
The fun, tunes and good times continues next weekend with the revamped and revitalized Wild Hare Music Festival, featuring headliners Zach Bryan, Marcus King, Morgan Wade, Lucero and many more. Tickets and more information at wildharemusicfest.com.
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