By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
The weather was pretty much perfect, the crowds were large, and overall most agreed that the start of Harvest Homecoming Booth Days was pretty much all that could be requested.
Thousands of people piled into downtown New Albany on Thursday as the annual fall festival sprung back to life. Really nothing much has changed about Harvest Homecoming in recent years, and that’s just the way most people like it.
“It’s just tradition,” said Barbara Spitznagel, Jeffersonville.
She was sitting at a table on Market Street waiting for some friends. As is the case for many people, Harvest Homecoming provides Spitznagel with the opportunity to catch up with acquaintances.
It also gave her a chance to see some of the new shops that have opened downtown lately, including the Regalo art studio and gift shop off Pearl Street.
“I’ll come back for that,” Spitznagel said.
More than a reunion, Harvest Homecoming also gives local businesses, organizations and churches a place to sell their goods and raise money for various efforts. For example, the Mom’s Homemade Fudge booth has been at Harvest Homecoming since 1973. Butterscotch, persimmon and of course chocolate fudge are sold at the booth, and the goodies are all baked by a group of ladies from Faith Community Church in New Albany.
This year, proceeds are going to boost the Haiti mission effort the church sponsors.
Cherie Beach, one of the main organizers and bakers for the booth, said the event is meaningful to the church’s cause because it allows them to raise money for mission work.
“And it’s going wonderful so far,” she said from inside the Bank Street booth.
Harvest Homecoming is also an important fundraiser for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1693 in New Albany. Kathy Clark, president of the Ladies Auxiliary for the post, said business seemed good Thursday, as volunteers sold chicken and dumplings from their booth on Market Street.
“I think [attendance] is up — we’ve already sold quite a bit,” Clark said. “This really helps the post.”
Some businesses and organizations use Harvest Homecoming as a marketing opportunity.
Ian Hall, owner of The Exchange Pub + Kitchen, is part of a group that is bringing a Comfy Cow ice cream parlor to New Albany. The outpost of the popular Louisville shop won’t open off Market Street until next year, but Comfy Cow has a booth at this year’s Harvest Homecoming where Hall and others will serve ice cream and spread the word about the business.
“For us, it gives us a chance to make an introduction,” Hall said.
Booth Days continue through Sunday. Booths will be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and Saturday. The festival concludes Sunday, with booths opening at noon and closing at 5 p.m.
For more information, visit harvesthomecoming.com