OGDEN — The annual Harvest Moon celebration just got a little more dangerous.
But a heck of a lot more fun.
The popular end-of-summer-beginning-of-fall festival in the heart of downtown Ogden is adding the throwing of sharpened axes to this year’s event. That activity joins a climbing wall, fashion show, live music, cultural performances, art booths, roving entertainers, food and drink as cool stuff you get to do on a Saturday in September, right in the middle of Historic 25th Street.
This year’s Harvest Moon celebration will be held from noon to 8 p.m. on the 100 and 200 blocks of 25th Street. Admission is free.
“It’s actually marked as the largest event in Northern Utah now,” said Danielle Collier, marketing and communications coordinator for Ogden Downtown Alliance. “I always tell people it’s a celebration to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall.”
Harvest Moon started as a couple of local business owners wanting to do their own small street festival, and it grew from there, according to Collier. Last year’s event attracted about 27,000 people.
With the addition of axe throwing and a few other activities, Collier says they expecting even more people this year.
“It’s something I’m really excited about,” Collier said of throwing axes. “They used to do an arm-wrestling tournament at Harvest Moon, but this year we’ve reached out to a new business in town, Social Axe Throwing. They’re going to be a huge addition to our annual event.”
Collier says open, free axe throwing will be offered for the first few hours of the festival.
“It’ll be almost like a bowling alley — or a big dart board — right there in the middle of the road so everyone can watch and participate,” she said.
Anyone who scores more than 20 points during open axe-throwing is automatically entered into a competition that begins at 5 p.m. The winner of the contest will receive an axe engraved with “Harvest Moon champion,” and receive free entry into a future U.S. axe-throwing competition.
“So this will act as a sort of qualifier,” Collier said.
Also new this year, Harvest Moon organizers are partnering with Grand Teton Brewing Company, out of Idaho, to create a new beer for the event — the Hazy Harvest Moon IPA.
“It’s the first time we’ve had a beer named after the festival, so that’s exciting,” Collier said.
Entertainment will be offered at two venues, with music on the main stage and cultural demonstrations on the community stage.
Headliner for this year’s festival is James Supercave. The California band combines psych-rock with a pop sensibility, calling itself “astronauts of inner space.”
“They’re doing a big tour of the U.S. right now, and we’re the last stop on their tour,” Collier said. “All their other performances on this tour are ticketed events, and this one’s free to the public.”
“Then we have what we call the ‘tweeners’ — the musicians who play between the bigger acts,” Collier said.
Among the acts on the community stage will be groups like Tutulli Ballet Folklorico, which Collier describes as “traditional dances from all the different regions of Mexico, featuring ages 3 to 60 performing,” and Imagine Music, an Ogden group that offers youth performances.
There will also be “pop-up performances” throughout the festival.
By popular demand, Collier said this year’s event offers more “family-friendly” activities during the day. For example, the Layton-based Nerf gun arena Dartside will set up a play area for children this year. Balloon artists, face painting, a climbing wall and more will also be offered.
“As a result, from noon to 5 p.m. we’ll have a lot of family-friendly events and activities,” Collier said. “Then, at five o’clock, they’ll all leave, and then it’s the adult section of Harvest Moon. We don’t go too crazy, but it’s nice to have that combination of the two.”
Also on Saturday, at 11 a.m. the dedication of California artist Jane Kim’s Migrating Mural project will be held. Kim created a monarch butterfly themed op-art project on The Monarch building at 455 25th St., and the event is open to the public.
Harvest Moon is also being held in conjunction with the NUHOPE Suicide Awareness Walk. The event begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at 235 25th St.
Collier said this year’s Harvest Moon should be bigger and better than ever, while still keeping the feel of the original, intimate event.
“I think, traditional-wise, a lot of it goes back to that street festival vibe — rallying local businesses and restaurants on the street for a fun time,” she said.