The Harvest Homecoming Festival is preparing for its 51st year in downtown New Albany. It has grown from a few tables set up along Pearl Street to become one of the largest festivals in the state of Indiana. People look forward to it each year.
The Harvest Homecoming means a lot to the people of Southern Indiana.
But throughout its history the volunteers who operate the festival have never endorsed a candidate or one political party over another. The Harvest Homecoming Festival is independent and appreciates support from Democrats, Republicans, independents and others. It has never been thrown into the muck and mud of politics.
This year the News and Tribune published its annual Harvest Homecoming guide on Sept. 28. The tab is full of festival information, including a schedule of events, booth listings and photos of past festivals.
But it’s the cover that has gotten the most attention, and it has nothing to do with the photo of Mr. Pumpkin. The confusion is with the banner advertisement, paid for by the Clark County Democrats, reads “Vote Democrat” and runs along the bottom of the cover.
The ad’s background color is dark brown, the same as the rest of the cover, so it blends in, making it look like the festival is asking readers to vote Democrat or that the guide was produced by the Clark County Democrats. Neither is true.
“The tab is a product of the News and Tribune and reflects in no way the beliefs of the Harvest Homecoming committee or the event itself,” News and Tribune Publisher Bill Hanson said. “The News and Tribune regrets the uproar it has created among some and accepts all blame anyone wishes to assign.”
The cover is prime advertising space, and in the past has been sold to an area car dealer. In the future, no political ads will be sold on publications such as the Harvest Homecoming guide to avoid confusion.
“I want to apologize for our lack of good judgment in allowing a political party to purchase the ad space on the cover of this year’s Harvest Homecoming special edition,” Hanson said. “Given our current political climate, we should have been more discerning. Lesson learned at the News and Tribune.”
— Assistant Editor Chris Morris