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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Harvest Homecoming in New Albany, Indiana

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Image courtesy of Harvest Homecoming Facebook Page
Check their website for current dates/times
Ahhh, October. Brilliant leaves, football, pumpkins, Halloween decorations, costumes, haunted houses, and….Harvest Homecoming. For those of us who grew up in Southern Indiana, this week should be a holiday. It is Mardi Gras for New Albany. Finally, our school system has given us a week off to be gluttonous and support our local economy!                                                      

Before I tell you the must haves on the HH Festival, let me give you a little background. Harvest Homecoming is the longest running festival in the state of Indiana. It’s been going strong for 46 years. Originally, it started as 3 days, but as we evolve, so does the festival. Some festivities start months before the actually event which is always held the second weekend in October. (I suggest you mark your calendars now. After you go once, you will want to go again). From downtown window paintings by local students, to walks, runs, and cycling, to the Miss Harvest Homecoming Pageant lots of things go on before the parade which kicks off the festivities. In fact, we’ve even had a couple of Miss HH’s go on to win Miss Indiana, one of whom, Shani Nielsen, went on to win the Talent Division of Miss America and place in the top 5!
Let’s get down to the good stuff, not that being Miss Harvest Homecoming isn’t good stuff. After all, the Miss America Scholarship Pageant program puts plenty of hard working, intelligent women through college, but we’ll save that for another entry!

This Saturday, October 5th, is the official kick off of Harvest Homecoming with the Parade. Oh, the parade! I have such fond memories of the parade. One of the participants I look forward to every year is the Shriners. They have many interesting things; go carts, clowns with balloons, mini motorcycles, a bunch of them sitting on a camel float playing flutes. It’s SO COOL! And of course, it reminds me of my childhood which I’m now sharing with my child. In addition to that, you have the high school bands, fire trucks, dance teams, martial arts, various ball teams, etc interspersed with city officials and all sorts of other fun stuff. The parade starts at 12 in front of the high school (1020 Vincennes St) then heads south turning on to the one way Spring St, then ending at Bank and Elm. It’s a good stretch. All along the way, you will find vendors from local churches and civic organizations tempting you with their treats. Which is why I recommend fasting the week before Harvest Homecoming.

 photo hh2_zpsf9841cee.jpgThe food is incredible. You can literally eat your way through these booths while you shop local artists, business, churches, charities, etc. In the past, I’ve taken my daughter every Friday to Harvest Homecoming. We eat lunch down there, find some new fall/Halloween crafts, ride some rides, eat some more, then head home so we can fully enjoy our food comas. Since fall break is now the entire week, we will actually be going on Thursday this year. Friday has the business luncheon and (unofficial) beer walk and as much as I enjoy cold beer, I think others may enjoy it more, so I prefer not to be around those I cannot control. (Go ahead! Call me Type A!) Plus, it seems most people have gotten the same idea, make it a 3 day weekend with Friday being adult day and Saturday family day. So, I’m switching it up this year and going Thursday!

Some of my Harvest Homecoming must haves include:
  • Apple Dumplings from St John United Presbyterian Church. These are not your normal run of the mill apple dumplings here. They are entire apples wrapped in homemade crust with a broth of cinnamon, butter and sugar. They are incredibly delicious and since they are apples, I like to convince myself incredibly healthy as well. In fact, I buy extra and stockpile them in my freezer.
  • Chicken and Dumplings from the New Albany Little League Softball. YUM! Homemade by Mama Luckhardt these are too die for. Plus, it’s the park’s largest fundraiser.
  • Pumpkin Ice Cream from the Pilot Club. I love pumpkin anything! But I LOVE pumpkin ice cream and I’m not even an ice cream kinda girl. Love it. I used to harass Mrs. Emery every Sunday after church when we stopped to get ice cream asking if she had pumpkin. She would always reply the same thing, “Not until your birthday, Heather” Siiiigh. OK. Mrs. Emery is long gone (though her family has opened a new location in Corydon) and I know I speak for everyone when I say we miss her dearly, but at least the Pilot Club isn’t going anywhere. They have expanded to offer other flavors, but its fall! You know pumpkin is the only way to go.
  • Roasted Corn on the Cob by the Boy Scouts-This is the jam right here. I wish I could cook corn like this. They roast the corn in the husks over an open fire then shuck, dunk in butter and hand to you. Leave your toothpicks at home. Everyone is walking around with corn in their teeth. Seriously. 
  • New Albany Lion’s Club Ribeye Steak Sandwich. I’m sucker for carnie food and if you hadn’t noticed by above diet is seriously lacking protein.  I can think of no other way to go other than a ribeye steak sandwich. The Lion’s Club has been doing it right as long as I can remember. Speaking of remembering, I believe they also have rolled oysters, if that’s more your style.
 photo IMG_9908.jpgNow, these are just a few of MY favorites. I’m sure anyone you talk to will tell you they have theirs as well which may include brats, half chickens, turkey legs, corn dogs, BBQ, various baked goods, you name it. I really think the booths should be open all week now that fall break is all week. I can’t eat everything I want in three days! Of course, I’m not allowed to leave until I have a large bag (or two) of kettle corn and some fresh fried donuts as well as persimmon pudding for my grandmother.  Also, I try to make sure I make purchases from local charities. As the VP of Think Local So IN, I do have a penchant for locally owned and operated businesses, but this is a tradition, so many of these amazing non-profits make the majority of their monies this weekend. I can shop/eat the other places the entire year, I still get to visit their booths and check out what they have to offer making plans to visit them in the future. But I only have 3 days to take part in some of these place’s offerings.

I know I’ve already given my pitch for why to go on Thursday but what if you have to work? What about stuff for the kids? Kids aren’t the foodies we adults are, are they? Probably not.  Why brave the crowd on Saturday? Because Saturday is definitely family fun day at Harvest Homecoming! There is a big wheel race, tractor pull, family fun workshop, youth pageants, costume contest, and a Kid’s Day in the Tent. All tons of fun and sure to entertain the family! There’s even a car show on the riverfront.  If you bake the best pumpkin pie around, I suggest you enter it in the baking contest. There’s literally something going on for everyone in your household, so pack up the family and head on down! Make it an all day deal. There are performers on the stage all weekend, or you can walk down to the Culbertson Mansion and take a tour. It’s literally a haunted house!

You can find all of this information, except my opinions of course, on the official Harvest Homecoming site. A lot of the events are free, but some of them require pre-registration, etc. So, make sure if there is anything above that is of interest to you, you check it out ASAP. Also, if you have a four legged friend you want to show off, the dog contest is this Monday, the 7th. Enjoy the festivities!

By guest contributor: Heather

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