Food Collected By National Nonprofit For Local Food Banks
By Terrah Baker
Everyone who’s been, or heard about Harvest Festival held on Mulberry Mountain in Northwest Arkansas knows it’s full of fun, great music and interesting people. But behind the bright burning lights of the flame throwers, the glowing circles of the hoopers, and the mind-melting tunes of the on-stage performers is a philanthropic side, that’s helped charities around the country earn thousands of dollars — and nonperishable food items — for their cause.
The Conscious Alliance is a national nonprofit that now partners with Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Fest after being involved with Wakarusa from year one. Alliance’s cause is collecting nonperishable food items from festivals across the country.
Alliance’s Executive Director Justin Levy said the team doesn’t go in with goals of how much food to collect, because they know each event will be a huge success, whether they collect 100 or 10,000 meals (which they’ve been able to do every year they’ve participated in the Mulberry Mountain festivals). Specifically on Mulberry Mountain, they’ve collected multiple thousands of meals of nonperishable, low sodium and healthy foods each year.
At each event, the organizers for Alliance set up a food collection station at the main entrance of the festival, where people coming in can drop off their donated items in a large barrel. In return, they get a Harvest Fest, Conscious Alliance poster designed by well-known artists in the music community who donate their artwork.
The group has been able to collect well over 1.6 million meals since their inception that they then deliver to local food banks in the area, with The River Valley Food Bank in Fort Smith being the recipient of donations collected at this year’s Harvest Fest
Monetary Donations Through Drinks
But collecting food isn’t enough. Brett Mosiman, Pipeline Productions co-owner and organizer for Harvest explained how each event at Mulberry Mountain contracts with nonprofits to run the beverage stands in order to raise money for their cause or charity.
Each event has six to 12 charities that benefit directly from concession sales, with each organization having up to 20 to 40 volunteers. All work long, hard hours for the three days the event takes place. The nonprofits and charities usually reach out to Harvest organizers six months in advance. Many of the benefiting organizations have worked on Mulberry Mountain since 2004. A year in advance to get signed up is not too early, Mosiman said.
He said they try and keep variety in their charities, but lean more towards youth-oriented projects because that is one of the most vulnerable populations in our society. In the past, they’ve had charities for breast cancer, youth sports, river cleaning, and even the Blue’s Society of the Ozarks.
Mosiman said most of the organizations find it’s better than a bake sale or car wash as they can take home between $5,000 to $10,000 following each festival.
To learn more about these projects and Harvest Fest in general, visit yonderharvestfestival.com.