Music In The Mountains: Hillberry Harvest Moon Festival back and even bigger

Music In The Mountains: Hillberry Harvest Moon Festival back and even bigger

Many moons ago, at a party in Rogers, the Hillberry Harvest Moon Festival was unknowingly conceived.

“Our first event was a private party,” explains Jon Walker of Deadhead Productions. “We had about 200 people come out. The second year was the same way but double the number of people. By the third one, we’re like, ‘Oh, shoot, maybe we should take this thing public.’”

Now in its eighth year, Hillberry Harvest Moon Festival, which runs Sept. 29-Oct. 1, will be at the Farm in Eureka Springs.

“This year, our lineup is a little bit different. We’ve actually expanded the genres a little bit. In the past, we’ve been very heavy on the bluegrass and jam grass,” says Walker. “We’ve got some other acts to kind of break that mold a little bit [such as] Oteil & Friends, — Oteil [Burbridge] is in the band Dead and Company — coming out. I think people are excited about Cory Wong. He was from the band Vulfpeck. He’s got an incredible new album that he just recently put out. It’s really interesting. It starts as a funk album and kind of turns into a bluegrass album. He’s done like sit-ins with Billy Strings and Del McCoury.” He adds that beloved bassist Victor Wooten will also be returning to the festival this year.

“We have a lot more local acts this year,” he adds. “We have so much musical talent in Northwest Arkansas. It’s really incredible. We really wanted to try to expand on that and give a showcase for a lot of the up-and-coming local bands. So in order to do that, we started programming earlier. We have music kicking off at noon Thursday, and music will run all the way through till the wee hours of Sunday morning.”

Walker adds that the festival starts early this year on Sept. 29 with local band Danny Spain Gang.

He says that he’s looking forward to hearing Arkansauce, a band which played at previous festivals.

“They are rapidly gaining steam. They’re emerging as more and more of a regional band and not so much of a local anymore,” he says, adding “Opal Agafia, out of Eureka Springs. She is also doing a great job. She’s been rising quite a bit and getting a lot of fanfare, so it’s good to have [her and her band] back.” He adds that he’s excited about performances by The Gravel Yard and Country Jesus and other local acts including Danny Spain Gang, Eureka Strings, The Damn Neighbors, Rachel Ammons, Charlie Mellinger Band, Sprungbilly and Skye Pollard and the Family Holler.

“We’ve got two different stages that we will rotate music between. None of the acts play at the same time. So you have the opportunity to see all the bands on there if you really want to,” Walker goes on, adding that there will be around 30 craft vendors and seven or eight food trucks there as well.

“I’ve got an activities director, and she has programs going on from Thursday all the way through Sunday. We have kids’ workshops; we have parades. There’s a kid’s tie-dye workshop. There’s something constantly going on for kids during the day.”

For the adults, there’s the music, obviously, but there are activities as well from “Bloody Mary Breakfast Clubs” to face painting to workshops focused on instruments that are led by national musicians.

“We also have a live art tent. We feature a bunch of artists in the area. They’ll come in, they display their paints, they’re all doing live art as well. So I mean, there’s constantly stuff going on over the entire venue. I mean, we typically have around 3,500 to 4,000 people out there. The majority of them are there for the entire duration.”


“We’re going to open the gates on Wednesday, the 28th. That way people can come in a day early, they can camp, you know, kind of get ready. We had a lot of traffic, a lot of congestion, coming in last year. So hopefully that’ll relieve some of the traffic coming into the venue.”

Walker says that while RV spots are sold out, camping on-site is available.

“Camping does come with ticket purchase. So you know when you come in, you basically camp by your car,” Walker says. “The venue itself is amazing. It’s 160 acres. We butt up to Mark Twain National Forest. We’ve got three miles of hiking and biking trails. We have an 18-hole disc golf course.”

Railroad Earth

Cary Harmon, the drummer for Railroad Earth, says that they have had a busy summer, and he’s looking forward to a more low-key fall and returning to the beautiful hills of Eureka Springs.

“We were busy for the first time in a long time. You know, everybody was somewhat on hiatus the past couple of years, as far as live shows with everything that’s been going on, but we were busy. We played a lot of festivals this summer, did a lot of traveling and sort of easing into a little bit slower fall, which is welcome, which is great. So it’s been a good year.”

Railroad Earth returns to the Hillberry Harvest Moon Festival this year for two performances at 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to play old favorites and songs from their latest release, “All for the Song.”

“Interestingly enough, it too got interrupted by covid and everything that happened over the past couple of years. We made it in 2019. And we started to release it in early 2020. But were shut down in March. So we decided to sort of hold on to it and wait until everyone was kind of back and we could be out playing these songs and that kind of stuff. So we put it back out this year for real,” Harmon explains.

“It’s interesting to be that far away from making a record and putting out that same record.”



Hillberry: The Harvest Moon Festival

WHAT — A four-day music festival with arts, crafts and workshops. Music includes Railroad Earth, Oteil & Friends, Cory Wong, Sam Bush, Yonder Mountain String Band, Victor Wooten/Bass Extremes, Keller & The Keels, Big Something, Circles Around the Sun, The Lil Smokies, Kitchen Dwellers, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, The High Hawks, Arkansauce, Opal Agafia, Pert Near Sandstone, Friends of the Phamily, One Way Traffic, Clusterpluck, The Gravel Yard, Skye Pollard & Family Holler, Country Jesus, Eureka Strings, Rachel Ammons, Sprungbill, Pretend Friend, The Dirty Strings, The Charlie Mellinger Band, The Damn Neighbors, The Traveling Squirrels, The Danny Spain Gang, Blurred Name.

WHEN — Sept. 28 (early entry); music from Sept. 29 – Oct. 2

WHERE — The Farm, 1 Blue Heron Lane, Eureka Springs

COST — $70 for one-day pass to $215 for a four-day full event pass; $230 for five-day full event pass; other ticket options available


Categories: Cover Story