harvest of hope

by kellie abrahamson and mischele miller
So it looks like the First Coast won’t be on the Warped Tour’s schedule this summer. But before you start crying into your Fall Out Boy pillowcase, there’s a new Fest in town and it’s got everything Warped has and more. The Harvest of Hope Festival invades the St. Johns County Fairgrounds on March 6th through the 8th. That’s right, three days of great music. Take that, Warped Tour!
An awesome lineup of over 100 bands will be at Harvest of Hope Fest. Punk/metal politicos Propagandhi will perform along with the Bouncing Souls, Tokyo Police Club, the National, Bad Brains, the Virgins, MURS, Broken Social Scene, Girl Talk, Less Than Jake, Paint It Back, Ra Ra Riot and many more. Your favorite local acts, including SUNBEARS!, Environmental Youth Crunch and Antarctic will also be rocking out over the weekend. You won’t find bluegrass or country music here!
In addition to being held in the cool of March rather than the blazing Florida summer, the Harvest of Hope Festival has yet another advantage over Warped: the proceeds are going to a good cause. The Harvest of Hope Network is a non-profit organization that provides financial, educational and service-related assistance to migrant farm workers all over the country. Established in 1997, the foundation has donated $685,000 to migrant workers to assist with car repairs, medical services, college tuition, food, clothing, bills, rent and other expenses. Against Me!, one of the bands you’ll see at the Fest, has already raised over $18,000 in donations playing benefit shows for Harvest of Hope in Gainesville, Chicago and Athens.
The idea for this three day music festival can be credited to Ryan Murphy of No Idea Records, who is also responsible for Gainesville’s city-wide rockapalooza THE FEST. He and co-worker Tony Weinbender decided to discuss the idea of a benefit concert festival with Ryan Dettra, who manages the St. John’s County Fairgrounds and the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. Dettra liked the thought of having a music fest that donated money to such a worthy cause and, with his encouragement, Murphy and Weinbender pitched the idea to St. Johns County, eventually getting a $50,000 grant for the Fest.
If you’re coming in from out of town for the Harvest of Hope Festival you may want to stay in St. Johns County for the weekend. In addition to the many affordable accommodations minutes away from the Fairgrounds, you can also camp onsite. The campground is on a lovely 13 acre property with 1000 camping facilities and several RV facilities. Each Camping Ticket (which is separate from your entry fee) is good for up to 4 people per camp site and is just $29.50 for the entire weekend. Because space is limited, Camping Tickets will only be issued to 3-day music ticket holders.
As with all events of this nature, Harvest for Hope Fest will have more to see and do besides watching some great bands. There will lots of good eats onsite, including vegan and vegetarian options and alcoholic beverages. Along with the usual food fare, there will also be a variety of art shows and films to watch. And don’t forget to bring some cash for all the band merch that will undoubtedly be on sale.
As if you needed more convincing, Harvest of Hope Fest has an affordable price point, something no one can say of the increasingly pricy Warped Tour. A day-pass is only $19.50 and a three day pass is $39.50 after February 1st. At the gate on the weekend of the event the price is $29.50 for a day and $49.50 for three days, so it does pay to get your tickets early. You can get tickets at Music Matters in St. Augustine (196 State Road 312, 824-5740) or you can buy them online at harvestofhopefest.com.