Harvest of Hope fest postponed; foundation shooting for 2012

By Emily Hoover | ehoover@flagler.edu
Photos by Philip C. Sunkel IV | psunkel@flagler.edu

A third Harvest of Hope Festival is in the works for 2012, said Phil Kellerman, president of Gainesville-based Harvest of Hope Foundation.

Lack of time and resources prevent the foundation from holding a third festival this spring at the St. Johns County fairgrounds in Elkton.

“We wanted to put on a third, but it costs a lot of money,” he said. “It takes a year to build a festival and we are a small foundation. We’re a little too late, we should have started three months ago.”

As Harvest of Hope exists as a grassroots foundation, which gives financial support to migrant farm workers through scholarships, transportation, housing, utilities and medical services, the organization functions independent of corporate aid. Harvest of Hope also aims to promote awareness of the work needed to harvest and produce food for the masses.

“During the first festival, awareness of the issue was low, but during the second fest, bands were vocal about the cause and folks were receptive,” Kellerman said. “So we are working on a lot of offshoots, about 10 benefits. We hope to create a hip-hop event in Gainesville as well as shows at the [St. Augustine] Amphitheater.”

The foundation began with a small benefit at Café Eleven on Sept. 4.

Spanish Gamble, Guilt Makers, 8 Ghosts and local band Primadonnasaurs played to a quiet crowd of supportive fans as a video of the previous festivals sparked reminiscence for those who were there.

Other benefits are scheduled for Atlanta, Tallahassee, St. Petersburg and Jacksonville in October. Artists Built to Spill, Against Me! and Rise Against have expressed interest in the cause.

Conmoto Art and Music Festival in Jacksonville, founded by Flagler College student Jon Bosworth, will feature the foundation on Saturday, Nov. 13. Door money will directly benefit the foundation, as well as The Willy Harvey Fund, a smaller fund in Hastings.

“I believe in the great connection between progressive music and the grassroots cause of Harvest of Hope,” Kellerman said. “I never thought I would be hanging out at punk clubs until two in the morning, but artists like Tim Berry and Against Me! get it.”

James Austin, who played with Anchor Arms at Harvest of Hope and performed at Café Eleven acoustically under the name 8 Ghosts, agrees. He plans to play at 10 benefits for the foundation.

“Because the music scene we come from, hard rock and punk rock, is so tight-knit, our people see it and our people care,” Austin said. “Just like with Against Me!, where they go, the fans go.”

Future plans for Harvest of Hope include an auction with Sweetwater Coffee and prioritizing with AEG Records, which, Kellerman said, is akin to Live Nation.

He and his brother Ed Kellerman, professor at the University of Florida, plan to sit down with the company in order to discuss sponsorship possibilities for the next festival.

As fans and musicians, eagerly anticipating a third festival, looked gloomy, the message of the foundation continues.

“It’s a bummer, but certainly I understand financial struggles,” Austin, a resident of Gainesville, said. “It was a fun, community-based event; not a lot of violence. I hope they can reactivate it.”

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