After a brief landing for a day in Edmonton, I picked up my mom after she flew all the way from Ontario to join me at Astral Harvest once she heard about the festival only two weeks prior to its date. We scrambled to gather food and supplies despite it being our first time seeing each other in a year. The following day we awoke and quickly made our way to Driftpile, which are the same grounds as North Country Fair. Such a familiar place, yet the differences in the setup were remarkable.
The main stage had a massive canopy stretched in a colorful frenzy, with art installations and tents slowly being erected nearby. We showed up a few days early with the intention to help Flociety set up a hexagon-shaped chill tent nearby; however, we arrived just a few minutes too late, as the powerhouse team somehow managed to have the mass of steel and canvas already up. In celebration of their victory, they flopped on a pile of squishy Tetris-inspired pillows and a stuffed bear that was larger than me.
The entire grounds were buzzing with volunteers and coordinators hard at work for the days following, of course, tethered with spurts of hard-earned play, giving a secondary meaning to the word ‘buzz’, as the sun fell beyond the horizon and everyone began to unwind.
Finally, Thursday evening came around, kicking things off with the opening ceremony taking place at The Axis Mundi Theatre, setting course for a collection of bizarre, hilarious, and thought-provoking acts that would take place for the remainder of the weekend. From there, the weekend began unwrapping itself before my eyes -- circus acts, comedy, workshops, art, poetry, performances, vendors, and not to mention a widely diverse selection of music ranging across multiple genres; including everything from hip hop, to house, to drum and bass, and beyond. The weekend was so stacked with amazing music across all stages, it was a scramble trying to catch all my favorite sets, resulting in me running back and forth so I could indulge in every bit of it.
With every festival, the early hours would bring out the weird leftovers of the night, hypnotically dancing in a daze as much as their body would still allow. Among these troopers, I found my mom still going hard to no surprise, as the remnants of beer still filtered through her system. As for myself, I laid in the grass nearby on the outskirts of the dancefloor, half asleep, watching the chaos unfold.
The weekend went by in a blur, surviving on copious amounts of coffee and weed to keep me going through the sleepless nights of interviews. My entire life was a balancing act as festival culture was becoming my new norm and Astral Harvest became my home. Like the flash of a camera, as quickly as it came together, it was gone -- encapsulated by a memory.