By Brian Washburn
Some of us are still getting used to the phenomenal idea that Northwest Arkansas will host its second major music festival of the summer. The Mulberry Mountain Harvest Festival will open Wednesday and run through Aug. 15 at Mulberry Mountain, southeast of Fayetteville.
The Wakarusa music festival had its Mulberry Mountain debut this year — relocating from Kansas, but the Harvest Festival has graced the mountain for three years.
The Harvest Festival might not have the national recognition that Wakarusa brought to the Natural State, but it will feature plenty of favorites, including popular headliners Umphrey’s McGee, The Avett Brothers, Railroad Earth and the legendary Ozark Mountain Daredevils and Nitty Gritty Dirty Band.
But these headliners are not the only outstanding names that will play the outdoor venue surrounded by forest and mountains. Sixty-five bands will perform on three stages during the four-day festival including Peter Rowan (who with Jerry Garcia formed Old and in the Way), Split Lip Rayfield, Corey Smith, Paul Thorn, Band of Heathens, Squirrel Nut Zippers (by far the best band name out of the line-up), Tea Leaf Green, Lee Boys, Lotus, Hot Buttered Rum and Big Smith.
The Harvest Festival looks promising in its fourth year in the Arkansas Ozarks. One thing it has over Wakarusa is that a number of NWA’s finest bands will be included on the bill.
But folk, jam and bluegrass will not be the only attraction. Harvest Festival also offers camping, arts and crafts vendors, delicious food, fire performers, hoop dancing workshops, disc golf, bicycling and natural attractions like hiking trails, waterfalls, scenic mountain views and fishing.
Camping looks to be about the same as it was for Wakarusa, except Harvest Festival does offer the opportunity to rent cabins, a perk for music lovers who might not want to brave the great outdoors for four nights straight. Camping passes can be purchased on the festival Web site, mulberrymountainmusic.com.
Tickets for the festival can be purchased on the Web site, as well as several places around Fayetteville, such as Sound Warehouse and George’s Majestic Lounge.
Ticket prices range from $60 to $330, depending on how many days you want to attend and what kind of accommodations you want.
And hey, if you are really looking to drop the dough and live large during the Harvest experience, for $3,000 you can be in the Star II Cabin, which features a kitchen, bath, TV, VCR and festival passes for four nights for up to 10 guests.
If you want to camp, but still want the royal treatment, pony up for the VIP area, where you will be treated to catered dinners nightly, hot showers and a VIP lounge area with all the beer and soda you can drink and four-day passes for $325 a person.
Final Thought: With the combination of Harvest Festival, Wakarusa, Springfest and Bikes Blues & BBQ, Northwest Arkansas is moving up in the festival world. It might only be wishful thinking, but let’s just hope one day these festivals turn into the next Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza or Rothbury. It sure seems like they might be on their way.