Travelling to Mayo on our way to Westport House for the festival we passed car after car with Mayo flags flying from the windows. Half the county it seemed were on their way to Croke Park to see the Mayo V Kerry all Ireland semi final replay, so how would that work out for the attendance at Harvest?
After a long drive we arrived at Westport House, the location for the weekends events. Westport House on a regular day is a family friendly activities park with birds of prey shows, go karts and a pirate ship but this weekend it was to be home to some of the finest country music stars hailing from both home and abroad.
Westport House hosts a camping ground all year round so the campers at Harvest Country Music Festival found themselves in a unique and lucky position in which they had proper facilities including toilets and showers, unlike most other festivals where revellers will find themselves using the light from their phones to search for a porta-loo in the middle of the night.
Just a 5 minute walk from the campsite, visitors will find themselves in the heart of the main arena. Westport House is a wonderful venue, not only is it a beautiful setting with the old house playing backdrop to the stage, but the festival arena is small enough to navigate with ease. Each of the stages and food vendors are always close-by and the space never feels over crowded.
Set across 4 stages there was going to be something to keep everyone entertained over the weekend. Checking out the Roadhouse Stage, we found the party in full swing and it was still only early afternoon. The Roadhouse Stage was set up not only for people to hear some great live country music but also to have a dance, and that’s just what we found. Barry Kirwan had just taken to the stage and people immediately began swinging around the dance floor.
The line up for the weekend was a truly fantastic one for any country music fan. We caught Logan Brill on the main stage. Originally from Tennessee, she wooed the crowd with some beautiful vocals on her own songs and some covers. Despite the GAA semi final game the crowd had still turned out early in the day to enjoy some great music.
We later found ourselves at the Roadhouse Stage to see Niamh Lynn. Not only did she have the crowd dancing but she had a few moves of her own on stage too. Lending her vocal talents to all the country hits including Fall To Pieces, Jolene and Jambalaya.
At one point we found ourselves at the Harvest Café. This tent can be found at the end of a winding path leading to the rear of the house and was home to an array of singer/songwriters over the weekend, who took the time to discuss their music with the crowd and play some stripped back versions of their songs.
Dan + Shay rocked the main stage as the sun shone brightly in the sky, later followed by Kip Moore, who’s style can be found somewhere between rock and country and the crowd really loved it.
Over on the Roadhouse Stage the younger of the Carter boys, Jake Carter had the tent packed to the brim, so much so there was no room for dancing! He kept his set upbeat and even threw in a Picture This cover, delighting the teenagers in the audience.
Catherine McGrath could be found on the Vicar Street stage, a young Irish singer who was delighted to be at a festival dedicated to country music as country was her first love and she was elated to be able to share the experience with others.
As the sun set, the crowd gathered for the headline act, Nathan Carter. Coming onstage to loud cheers from the crowd, they were excited and ready to see him play. He came out on stage and congratulated Mayo on their win, which delighted the crowd. He put on a spectacular show, singing all of his greatest hits, finishing off with Wagon Wheel, during which the crowd sang along so loudly, the people of Westport town could probably hear it.
This was truly a family friendly festival, with people from all ages enjoying themselves all weekend long. With a friendly atmosphere, it was easy for families to mix with groups of 20 somethings and for everyone to enjoy the weekend. Unlucky for us, we could only stay the one night, but we can only imagine the craic that was had on the Sunday of the festival.
Harvest Country Music Festival in it’s first year, not only took take place in Westport but also in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh over the same weekend. The only difference being the acts swapped locations over the two days. This is a truly fantastic festival, from the setting to the music to the fun it’s easy to see this growing to become a staple in the Irish festival calendar each year.
Photos by Brian Dooley.