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September 17, 2012

Josh Dallas to be grand marshal of Harvest Homecoming parade

Annual festival gearing up for 45th year

NEW ALBANY —  Actor Josh Dallas is coming home Oct. 6.

Dallas, a 1996 New Albany High School graduate who stars as Prince Charming in the ABC series “Once Upon A Time,” will serve as grand marshal of the Harvest Homecoming Parade this year.

Dallas, who portrayed Fandral in the movie “Thor” which was released in 2011, has returned to his hometown numerous times since the hit series “Once Upon A Time” debut last year.

“He was more than willing,” said Harvest Homecoming President Micah Arnold. “The biggest conflict was his schedule. He still has family living here and he was honored to do it.”

Arnold said having a grand marshal of Dallas’ stature should guarantee a large parade crowd. He said his next goal is to encourage area businesses to put more floats in the parade.

“It takes money and time to build a float,” he said.

This year’s theme for the festival, now in its 45th year, is “Harvest Goes Hollywood” and pins are available for purchase. They will be sold at retail outlets next week, Arnold said, and are still $5. By purchasing a pin, patrons not only have access to Harvest events such as riverfront entertainment, but also help fund the festival. Like last year, the pins are metal.

“Some people think this is a big money-making operation, or they complain about having to buy a pin to go down to the riverfront. We just hope to break even each year,” Arnold said. “Booth rentals and pin sales basically fund the festival. And we give back by giving out a lot of college scholarships.”

While the festival’s first event, the Miss Harvest Homecoming Pageant, was last month, things really get geared up this month. Prior to the official start of the festival Oct. 6, there will be riding lawn mower races, a bowling tournament, 5k run, glow ball golf scramble and the festival’s oldest event, the pumpkin decorating contest.

“Everything is looking good and ready to go,” Arnold said. “People ask about it all the time. People can’t wait for Harvest. We are just tying up loose ends.”

Arnold, 34, has been involved in the festival for seven years. He will be president this year and next, and said he is thrilled and honored to head up the festival.

“It’s been wonderful. I was born and raised in New Albany,” he said. “It’s really a neat thing. It’s a way of giving something back to the community. It’s rewarding.”

The popular booth days are Oct. 11-14, and Arnold said most of the booth spaces have been filled. He also said without the many volunteers — which he estimated to be between 300 and 400 people at the many events — there would be no festival.

Harvest Homecoming is operated strictly by volunteers.

“The volunteers keep this festival going,” he said.

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