Special to the Herald
The sun was shining brightly over Bellevue as the second edition of MooseFest kicked off this past Saturday, Aug. 6.
The event showcased eight different artists between two stages throughout the day and into the evening at the Bellevue Sports Grounds. Co-organizers Mark Poppen and Joel Gaudet were pleased with how things turned out. This was the first year that their festival took place outdoors. It was a realization of a vision put in motion last year with the first edition of MooseFest.
“I’m happy. I’m definitely happy,” Poppen told the Herald as the evening of festivities wound down. “Like I said last year, I’m already thinking about next year. I think we have the grounds here that are the perfect layout for what we’re trying to do and I think we’re going to stick around for a while.”
The facility grounds proved to be an ideal location for the festival with on site camping, potable water, flush toilets, a beer garden, and a canteen that provided a few different food options on top of doubling as a merchandise booth for the artists. The Bueno Taco Y Poutine Eh! food truck was also on hand.
“I one hundred percent chalk it up as a success again this year. There’s not a doubt in my mind. This was a win,” Gaudet said.
Since the founding of their popular podcast called “The Sit Down” in February of 2020, Poppen and Gaudet have worked tirelessly to craft a music scene in Saskatchewan that primarily focuses on a sense of community and camaraderie. MooseFest has been the next logical step in continuing to build upon that foundation. It’s a concept not lost on festival patrons and artists alike.
“I think we’ve been needing someone for a long time to start bringing the music community in Saskatchewan together,” The Radiant vocalist/guitarist Mikhaila Anderson said of her MooseFest experience.
Saskatoon/Kindersley band The Radiant, a last minute addition to the festival, took the stage late in the afternoon and were a clear highlight of MooseFest this year. Their droning, progressive leanings, ala Tool and Puscifer, combined with Anderson’s captivating stage presence made them fun to watch.
The Hourhand, a classic rock imbibed power trio from Regina featuring the guitar shredding of Cole Van Woert, the soaring vocals of bassist Gray Farrow, and the in-the-pocket drumming of Dawson Dressler, also did not disappoint. Their unbridled energy bolstered by a tasty helping of original tunes that leaned into AC/DC and Led Zeppelin-esque sonics, clearly won over those in attendance.
Since being announced as a surprise opener for Monster Truck back in April at the Roxy in Saskatoon, The Hourhand have been on an upward trajectory, playing recent opening slots for Big Wreck and Bif Naked, and might arguably be one of the hottest musical commodities in the province right now.
Students of the game, The Hourhand are always looking for ways to better themselves as an ensemble. MooseFest provided them another opportunity to learn and grow.
“We’re watching W3apons kinda hand it to us right now. I’m learning from them,” Van Woert said as he watched W3apons performing on the main stage. “It’s like ‘okay this is what I want to do next time so we can bring it closer to what they’re doing right now.’ That’s what you gotta do with every show no matter who you’re playing with, and you get better because of it.”
At the end of the day, MooseFest continues to provide an exciting and rocking option for music fans in the province. The community aspect of what Poppen and Gaudet do with the artists, as well as their small town charm, are swiftly making MooseFest a destination festival in the Saskatchewan music fans.
This year’s lineup with The Hourhand, W3apons, The Northern Royals, The Radiant, Traitors’ Gate, Ex Omerta, King for a Day and Christie-Anne Blondeau was on solid footing. In short, a good time was had by all.
“It felt good. It felt good to be in Bellevue, Saskatchewan,” remarked The Hourhand’s Gray Farrow.