NEW ALBANY — Harvest Homecoming is canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some of the classic festival fare will still be available this October.
Several organizations in New Albany have announced that despite the cancellation of the annual festival in downtown New Albany, they will sell food from their own locations so they can continue to raise money and carry on the tradition. The New Albany Masonic Temple Association, St. John’s Presbyterian Church, the VFW Post 1693 and the Knights of Columbus in New Albany each have plans to sell food during the time Harvest Homecoming usually would take place.
The New Albany Masonic Temple Association will be selling its famous doughnuts through a drive-thru booth Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 starting at 8 a.m. at 805 E. Market Street. The organization has been selling the doughnuts for decades, and the vendor is known for attracting long lines at Harvest Homecoming.
St. John’s Presbyterian Church in New Albany has been selling its apple dumplings at the festival for at least 25 years, and this year, they will be for sale from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays Oct. 3 and Oct. 10 and from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sundays Oct. 4 and Oct. 11 at the church at 1307 E. Elm Street. The church is offering walk-up orders in the parking lot, drive-thru/curbside orders at the 13th Street entrance and online ordering available by emailing email@example.com.
The Knights Of Columbus in New Albany, another longtime Harvest Homecoming vendor, will present events on Oct. 9 and Oct. 10. On Friday, Oct. 9, it will present a fish fry from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 809 E. Main Street. A “Fall Fest” featuring chicken and dumplings will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday Oct. 10. Both events include drive-thru lunch and a sit-down or carryout dinner.
The VFW Post will sell its usual chicken and dumplings from Oct. 7-10 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 1919 Grant Line Road in New Albany. The post will offer carryout and dining options at the upstairs kitchen, drive-thru in the parking lot, walk-up service in the parking lot and curbside pickup.
Jim Dexter, commander of the VFW Post 1693, said the organization was encouraged by community members to continue selling its chicken and dumplings despite the cancellation of the annual festival and he received approval from the Floyd County Health Department. The post has been selling the chicken and dumplings for 52 years since the beginning of Harvest Homecoming.
The post normally uses about 2,000 pounds of chicken, but this year, it is scaling back to 1,000 pounds. Harvest Homecoming is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and it usually nets about $26,000 to $28,000 from the event. This year, Dexter is expecting to get around $8,000 to $10,000.
“When I first heard about it, my first reaction was, ‘oh no, what do we do raise money this year to help us?’” he said.
The fundraising will help cover part of the organization’s insurance costs and allow the VFW to help veterans and families in need, Dexter said.
Dexter said he is excited to carry on the tradition, even if people will not be gathering on the streets of downtown New Albany as usual. The organization needs more help than usual this year to serve the chicken and dumplings, and it is searching for more volunteers.
“It’s a time that we all get together and celebrate harvest and celebrate the fall — even though it is hard work, we have a good time and everyone enjoys themselves and the camaraderie,” he said.
Pastor Allen Colwell of St. John’s Presbyterian said the church had already come up with a Plan B for selling its apple dumplings during the early stages of the pandemic. Harvest Homecoming is its biggest fundraiser, and he hopes to make at least half of what they usually do at the festival.
The church’s booth is always one of the destinations at Harvest Homecoming, Colwell said.
“I know it’s not a substitute [for the festival], but maybe it’s just a little glimmer showing we can still be a community this time of year,” he said.