If you’re from Southern Indiana, you’re probably eagerly awaiting the aroma of chicken and dumplings, fried mushrooms, pork chops, rolled oysters and other fine fare only found at the Harvest Homecoming. Yes, it's fall, and New Albany's premiere festival (Indiana's third largest) is here at last!
This year marks 45 years of Harvest Homecoming, and it will "Go Hollywood" when it kicks off with a parade on Saturday, October 6. On Thursday, October 11, 275 booths will line the streets downtown and the fun-filled Fiesta Rides will once again be just inside the floodwall. As you wander through the booths, sampling goodies, shopping and visiting with friends, it's important to remember that many of them are operated by nonprofit organizations which depend on the money generated during Harvest Homecoming to fund their mission.
The Harvest Homecoming offers more than 50 activities including events and contests that engage the community. There is something for everyone including the home decorating contest, costume contest, riding lawnmower race and the classic pumpkin decorating contest. Some of you may be old enough to remember that the festival began as a three-day "Pumpkin Festival" before evolving into the week-long event that it is today.
Welcoming the community with festival events is key to the mission of Harvest Homecoming, which is "a group of volunteers dedicated to providing a family oriented festival. It unites the community in a spirit of fellowship and is committed to continuous improvement."
Harvest Homecoming president, Micah Arnold, extends a warm thank you to those who attend the festival. Also, he urges the community to say "thank you" to our local business owners, and also to our Harvest volunteers. “A lot of hard work goes into this festival and they deserve the appreciation," he said.
Harvest Homecoming is made possible in part by 400 hardworking volunteers. Every event of the Harvest Homecoming is overseen by volunteers, some of whom begin their day in the early hours, and stay until after midnight. While many of the volunteers come together only during the week of the festival, the committee and board members work throughout the year planning the events.
The City of New Albany strongly supports Harvest Homecoming, and Arnold extends a big "thank you" to Mayor Gahan, who is a member of the Harvest Homecoming board. "He has been extremely supportive of the festival."
Office manager, Polly Niemeier echoes Arnold's appreciation to the city. "I can't say enough about what the city does for us. Mayor Gahan has talked to us about how much he enjoys Harvest Homecoming. The city is in cooperation, along with the sanitation and street departments. We interface with all of them. That's what I enjoy the most in the community with so many organizations," said Niemeier.
If you're a Harvest Homecoming rookie, keep in mind the following tips for an enjoyable season. Pets, skateboards or bicycles are not permitted in the booth or Fiesta Rides areas. The Harvest Homecoming is crowded, especially in the evenings. Therefore, it is important to have a designated meeting spot in the event your party is separated. Also, be mindful that Market Street is closed to vehicle traffic between State and East Third Street. Pearl and Bank Streets are also closed between Spring and Main Street. And as you seek out a parking spot during the busy Harvest Homecoming, remember that even locations that require payment or doing so to raise funding. Therefore, when you pay to park, you are likely supporting a local nonprofit organization that depends on this annual fundraiser.
Don't forget to purchase a Harvest Homecoming pin for your chance to win one of many fine prizes. You might even win this year’s first place prize – a 2 carat total weight diamond tennis bracelet from Koerber's Fine Jewelry. This year, Schmitt Furniture is also giving away $3,500 worth of furniture to one lucky pin holder.