Bold and ambitious, the Axis Mundi Harvest Festival should be a blast

By David F. Rooney
Friday will mark the inauguration of the Axis Mundi Harvest Festival arguably the most ambitious event ever attempted in Revelstoke.
You’d have to harken back to the Kokanee Glacier Softball Tournament as it was more than a decade ago to find a weekend-long event approaching Axis Mundi’s complexity.
Months of negotiation and organization by Axis Mundi founder Hugo Rempen and his staff are yielding significant results:

  • A downtown fringe festival featuring local, national and international artists, music workshops and jams, family events, and the Farmer’s Market and a seasonal food fair;
A lecture series featuring adventurers and environmentalists Greg Hill, Jamie Andrew; Severn Cullis-Suzuki; and cross-country skier Chandra Crawford;
  • An edible mushroom tour in the woods;
  • Outdoor sport demos and activities such as climbing, rafting, cycling and paddling, both self-guided and through professionally licensed adventure companies;
  • The Glacier Grind Ultra Race & Relay happening on Saturday, September 19;
Film and adventure photography including a time lapse photo alley;
  • Workshops for adults and kids with the likes of drummer David Thaw, Beckman Coe and Adham Shaikh, Baskery, and Ashley MacIsaac;
  • The first Devil’s Club Race;
  • An adventure gear market;
Community projects; and
  • Terrific main stage concerts at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Our City has never seen anything quite like this and the Harvest Festival is just the first to be offered here. An equally complex Solstice Festival is being planned for next year.
Tickets are available online and the prices are quite reasonable (Click here to go to the tickets page). And, with the exception of the Radical Reels film show at the Performing Arts Centre, the events scheduled for Friday, September 18, are free. (Click here to visit the full weekend schedule.)
“The Friday events are now all completely free (with the exception of the Radical Reels Film Fest which we have helped cross-promote but isn’t an Axis Mundi event),” says Axis Mundi publicist Scott Crocker.
Friday’s Free Fringe performances begin with concerts at Grizzly Plaza where you can enjoy a cold one in the Rotary Cub’s beer garden while taking in bluesman Sherman TANK Doucette, followed by the amazing Nyundo School Roadshow with the solid roots/rock/reggae of Buckman Coe closing the show. As Grizzly Plaza winds down, our local nightlife will be winding up with free live music at venues throughout the city. Sink into the intensity of Toronto band Grounders or savour the sweet heaven of The Walkervilles, both appearing at the Last Drop.  At Chubby Funsters, experience the real deal, with Aspen Switzer’s pure and powerful performance with blues veteran Les Copeland’s inimitable style coming after. The Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra opens up an enchanted evening at The Regent Pub with Rodney DeCroo’s intimate set closing The Regent Pub. Singer and social activist Rachelle van Zanten pulls no punches at The Village Idiot, followed by fellow road warrior Dominique Fraissard.
Saturday and Sunday will feature markets, lectures, and music workshops through the daytime and many of those are open to everyone.  Capping off each day are the Devil’s Club Challenge Races and, after a short gondola ride (the price of that is included in your ticket costs) up to the main stage located in the natural amphitheatre at Revelation Lodge. There you can catch performers like Walk Off The Earth (Saturday) and Ashley MacIsaac (Sunday) and many others.
Now… this being September in Revelstoke there is always a threat of rain. The Weather Network is forecasting temperatures in the mid-teens (14° on Friday, 15° on Saturday and 16° on Sunday) with a 40% chance of showers on Friday and a 70% chance on both Saturday and Sunday.
“If it rains on the weekend some of the Friday fringe events will move indoors but otherwise the shows will happen rain or shine,” Crocker said. “Revelstokers are a hardy lot.”
Revelstokers know how to get involved, too, and 115 have signed up as Axis Mundi volunteers. Take Martin Ralph’s involvement with this project.
Martin, who has had a tremendous amount of experience in local theatre, has been acquiring and managing the stage crews for the fringe stages downtown and at the Performing Arts Centre.
“You gotta love what you do to be so involved… and I do,” he told The Current. “All together there are ten venues, including the mainstage at RMR, which has it’s own stage manager.
“The biggest challenge of my job at the moment is finding enough crew bodies to man each of the venues and stages. It’s a tough job because experienced stage crews are limited in a small town. But with my involvement with the Theatre Company I’m pretty much the person to know who is who in the stage realm in town, so it is much easier for me to find the right people than the Axis Mundi folks trying to do it without local support.”
The stage crews are responsible for assisting with load ins and load outs because some of the “backline” (equipment) needs to move from one venue to another between shows. Stage crews will also be available to the artists and performers for whatever needs they might have, including such technical things as light and sound, moving instruments on and off for the performers, etc., he said.
“We will also have people manning the doors of the events looking for paid wrist bands, and helping guests as needed. I am positioning myself to be a roaming stage manager, connected by wireless radio to all the stage crews, so that I can run from venue to venue to ensure that all the necessary requirements are attended to, and handle questions or problems that crop up with the stage crews or artists and performers.”