‘I’m Going Home’: Harefest Returns Signature Tribute Festival to Heart of Canby

In the words of ’60s rock band Ten Years After, “Harefest is Coming Home.” Or something like that. Born just up the highway at the Wild Hare Saloon, the Pacific Northwest’s signature tribute band festival is returning to Canby this year for its tenth anniversary.

After five years at Pat’s Acres Racing Complex, just west of town on the banks of the Pudding River, the two-day extravaganza that features some of the top tribute acts in the business and bills itself as “summer camp for adults” will be held this year at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds.

The organizers made the announcement on Facebook Friday, along with the lineup and other changes coming to this year’s festival.

Jason Fellman, a member of the Journey tribute band Stone in Love, and co-founder and co-organizer of the festival series with Wild Hare owner Joan Monen, said there were a number of reasons that the fairgrounds made sense for Harefest X.

“There’s so many factors when you’re producing a festival like this,” Fellman says. “You’re looking at everything from capacity to cost, to number of roads in and out, to camping facilities — all kinds of things.”

Including bathrooms? Oh yes. Fellman says the fact that the Fairgrounds offers permanent restroom facilities (i.e., fewer Porta-Potties) has actually been something that Harefest fans are the most excited about.

“It’s kind of funny,” he says. “Despite all the things that are fun to do at a music festival, one of the things we’re already hearing the most excitement about is that we’re going to have real bathroom facilities.”

Courtesy Harefest X.

That’s not the only infrastructure the fairgrounds has, of course. Harefest plans to make use of at least a couple of the existing buildings, as well as bleachers, picnic tables, trash cans and so on.

Permanent utilities are already on-site, with plenty of capacity for even what the popular overnight festival — with its professional concert-level production and effects — can throw at them.

At Pat’s Acres, much of that had to be set-up on the fly and taken down afterward, something akin to building a small city one week, then demolishing it the next week.

Not only will that aspect be less of a headache for festival organizers, but it will translate to a more affordable experience for concert-goers. Fellman says this is the biggest reason that almost all tickets for Harefest have dropped this year — something that hasn’t happened for several years.

“One of the things we were starting to get concerned about: Harefest was getting into the zone of being the same price as festivals that have the real bands,” he says. “And we always want people to feel like they’re getting a good value, so being able to drop some of the prices, that will make it even more accessible for the fans.”

This year, the cost of a single-day pass is $39 for Friday and $59 for Saturday. A festival pass (general admission for both days) is $89. Like in the past, there are additional fees for RV spaces, as well as overnight camping, and for some of the new features being added to this year’s Harefest.

That includes an after party each night, and a buffet-style breakfast Saturday morning, catered by the Wild Hare Saloon team with live music by Fleetwood Mac tribute band The Chain.

One challenge that has always been a particular quirk to Harefest is programming for Saturday afternoon, when many overnight guests are on-site and looking for something to do, but organizers, staff and artists are primarily focused on sound checks and other preparations for the evening’s concerts.

Last year’s answer was the Field Stage and Rock ‘N’ Roll Bazaar, which featured food carts, a beer garden, vendors and live music from three bands. This year, they’re doing something a little different.

The fairgrounds’ “main lawn” (directly behind the main pavilion and office) will be transformed into what Harefest has named “Hippy Hollow.” There, from 11 a.m. Saturday until the gates open for that night’s festivities, organizers will stage “Harestock,” a mini-version of Woodstock, featuring tribute acts of artists who played at the pivotal music festival 50 years ago, including Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

Fellman’s particularly psyched about the Hendrix artist, Randy Hansen, who’s internationally recognized for his tribute to the legendary and influential guitarist. And he’s excited about another new addition, Notorious, which pays tribute to Duran Duran, something organizers have been seeking almost since the festival started.

Of course, there will be many returning favorites, among them Shoot to Thrill, Petty Fever, Appetite for Deception and Fellman’s own band, Stone In Love — the only act to perform in all 10 years of Harefest.

The Harefest will be held on its traditional second weekend in July. This year, those dates are July 10 and 11.

Fellman says Harefest will provide complimentary tickets to the festival’s neighboring residents — something they have always done in the past. There will be more neighbors this year, but that practice will continue.

If you’re not one of those lucky households, you can get your tickets online now at the Harefest website.

Photo by Greg Earl Thomas.

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