Celebrating Harvest Tradition


The crisp scent of bonfires and cool air drift into our noses, reminding us it’s time to reap what we have sowed. We give thanks for the harvest, whether it’s picking apples, storing preserves or simply harvesting goodwill toward others to take us gently into winter.

Enter the fall tradition, Celebration of the Harvest, a festival aimed at bringing old reaping traditions into modern life. The founder and artistic director of the Yukon Educational Theatre, Arlin McFarlane, believes in holding true to our rituals.

“Theatre has roots in ritual, and the fall harvest is steeped in tradition. We are trying to create modern rituals that have roots in old times, but that speak to our modern ways,” says McFarlane.

In past years, the Celebration of the Harvest took place at the Community Gardens, and once even had a goddess on horseback ride in and spread good tidings among celebrants.

This year’s celebration moves to the Fireweed Market, a place McFarlane hopes will draw the curious. The location is central and it occurs during market hours.

There are plenty of activities to join in, some emulating the simplicity of early rituals like willow weaving. “There will be many different projects and events to take part in and it is all open for families and anyone who wants to participate,” says McFarlane.

Attend the celebration and take a step back in time.

Nellie Dale will be laying out a contemplative labyrinth of sunflower seeds, a peaceful place where one can wander without worry. Sheila Alexandrovich will host the willow-weaving project. Tarot card readers await the fortunate, ready to show how winter will unfold. During the festivities, Rob Hunter and Friends will serenade the public with folksy old-time tunes.

The Celebration of the Harvest is part of a trio of events celebrating the diversity of seasons in Whitehorse and creating modern traditions. “Burning Away the Winter Blues, Winterval and Celebration of the Harvest are all celebrations of the bounty of the earth and nature’s forces,” says McFarlane.

The traditional harvest symbol, the horn of plenty, will become personified into the King of the Harvest, a fruit and vegetable sculpture created by Nicole Bauberger.

Taking harvest items and creating a human-like sculpture is a new custom. As McFarlane notes, it is human nature to personify nature, and the King of the Harvest will soon join the ranks with Old Man Winter.

The Celebration of the Harvest runs from 4 until 7 p.m. or so on Thursday, Aug. 20 at the Fireweed Market. For further details or volunteer opportunities, Arlin McFarlane can be reached at 633-6844.

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