Harvest Moon Festival

By Lydia Concannon

      “When you attend the Harvest Moon Festival every cent of the ticket sales goes directly to helping families.  We hope that the event is a place where everyone feels welcome and has a good time listening to the music and knowing that they are contributing to a good cause,” says a member of Oyster River Womenade, Colleen Sullivan.

      This past Saturday, hundreds of people gathered on the lawns of the Red Hook Brewery for music, food, games and much more. The Harvest Moon Festival takes place from 3 pm to 11pm and consists of multiple performances by local bands. Many local vendors have donated funds and supplies to the festival. All of the proceeds are distributed between Oyster River Womenade, Womenade of Greater Squamscott, and Womenaid of Greater Portsmouth. 2014’s festival raised over 25,000 dollars for these groups.

Although the temperatures at the festival weren’t ideal people warmed up by dancing along to local bands. Sponsors also provided a variety of foods and drinks that kept attenders of the festival well entertained. Audrey Duvall (‘17), a volunteer at the festival remarked, “People seemed to be enjoying themselves, even though it was cold everyone was dancing and having a lot of fun.”

Not only was the festival a fun way for people to enjoy great music and great food, but it also benefitted a cause that helps a lot of people in our community. All of the proceeds from the tickets sold at the concert go directly to the cause.

“Our sponsors donate money to help pay for the event so we can use all the money from the tickets to reinvest in our community,” states Sullivan.

     The Harvest Moon Festival was started eight years ago by a local band named Bliss, whose members include Cathy O’Brien, Karen Larson, and Kristan Bishop. For six years the Festival was held in a barn with a capacity of just 200 people. Last year the fundraiser was moved to the Red Hook Brewery in order to make room for more people. “It’s amazing to see so many people come out for such a great cause,” says volunteer Eliza Keegan (‘17) regarding the turnout at this years festival.

     There are many Womenade groups across the country and they all provide help to families and individuals with a variety of needs. Oyster River Womenade is a non-profit organization that has provided help to members of the community since 2006. The small organization has donated almost 300,000 in just nine years since it was established. They provide temporary relief to people that need help getting back up on their feet.

     The organization also maintains no overhead so they can insure that all of the funds raised go directly to the people that need it most. All of the administrative costs are covered by board members. On the Oyster River Womenade website it states, “We are not a long-term solution. We help when no other resources are available. Our belief is that by helping someone through a short term crisis, we can help keep their situation from becoming worse.”

Some of the things that are provided to people include car repairs, fuel, home repairs, medical bills, rent/mortgage, child support, food, clothing, and more. A person in need is identified through a credible source and is then put in contact with the group. The board then decides whether they need funds provided to them or not.

    Laura Rothstein, a long time attendee of the Harvest Moon festival states,  “I think it’s an amazing way to bring families and music together for a great cause.”

    Womenade has provided help to hundreds of members of the community and will continue to in the future. Many people may wonder how they can help. Kristan Bishop, a member of Womenade and and organizer of the festival states, “We are always looking for volunteers. The Womenade board is great about organizing everyone!  We always need sponsors so if you know of a business that would like to support the festival that is a great option.”