HARVEST HOMECOMING’S CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD COURTNEY LEWIS OFFERS A SNEAK PEEK OF THE UPCOMING FESTIVAL SEASON
PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN WATSON
HARVEST HOMECOMING 2019 is on the horizon. So, we asked Courtney Lewis, chairman of the board, for a bit of insight and input as to what to expect.
Q & A WITH COURTNEY LEWIS:
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A PART OF THE HARVEST HOMECOMING VOLUNTEER TEAM?
This year marks my 12th or 13th festival. At some point all the fun runs together.
WHAT DOES HARVEST HOMECOMING MEAN TO YOU PERSONALLY?
For me, Harvest Homecoming really is about family and friends. We all have a Harvest Homecoming story. A great memory from our childhood or the first time we got to go on the (non-sanctioned) Beer Walk or meeting the love of our lives (not me, but if Mr. Right is ready, I’ll be in downtown New Albany for a couple weeks in October) or taking our children to get their first chicken and dumplings. It’s become a bit of a tradition with my coworkers to spend that Friday afternoon together. It’s like team building for us. I will never forget (thanks to the pictures) those moments. My nieces started volunteering last year, and I couldn’t be more proud of them for taking time out of their teenage lives to give back to their community. They are setting an example, knowingly or not, for their friends. Every place in the world has their thing, but for anyone who grew up here, Harvest Homecoming holds a very special spot in our hearts.
WHY IS HARVEST HOMECOMING BENEFICIAL TO OUR COMMUNITY?
Harvest Homecoming is such a great way to showcase our city and really celebrate the beauty of our neighbors. New Albany’s best assets lie in the people in this community. It feels great to see people come together and enjoy our city during the most beautiful time of year in Indiana. Not only is the economic impact beneficial to our businesses and local non-profits, Harvest Homecoming is able to give back to the younger members of our community through our scholarship programs. As an all-volunteer work force, Harvest Homecoming is also able to continue a rich tradition of giving back to our city and passing those values on to the next generation of pumpkins.
WHAT CHANGES CAN THE COMMUNITY EXPECT TO SEE FOR THIS YEAR’S HARVEST HOMECOMING?
Harvest Homecoming is really evolving and trying new things this year. Parade Day will look different with a day full of family fun in downtown. The Carnegie Center for Art & History will host their annual #IAMPUBLICART event on Bank Street at noon; the parade will kick-off at 3 p.m. (new this year) from New Albany High School, and then we’re going to park the floats around Bicentennial Park so people can get up close and personal with them while we partner with Mayor Jeff Gahan and the City of New Albany for Harvest Kickoff Karaoke in Bicentennial Park.
We’ve got some amazing new partners this year like Samtec Cares, UPS, SoIN Tourism, the Community Foundation of Floyd County and so many more that we’re excited to welcome to our Harvest Family. With the support of our neighbors in the community, we’re able to take our all of our kids’ events and riverfront concerts to the next level.
We have a great team working on the new Samtec Cares Family Stage in the First Financial Parking Lot that is going to be huge for kids of all ages. Vice President Amy Cummins and her team are working with new partners at the Floyd County Library and its branch at the Carnegie Center to fill that space with fun, interactive and educational programming Thursday and Friday during Booth Days, and I think everyone is going to be very excited to check that out.
Make sure to follow Harvest Homecoming on Facebook & Instagram for a full schedule of events.
WHAT IS THE THEME FOR HARVEST 2019?
This year’s theme is CarniFALL, based on our president’s, Art Niemeier’s, love of the Bahamian Festival, Carnival. It’s also a carnival, so look at us being clever. We are so excited to celebrate culture and unity and the joy of being a vibrant community of loving people from everywhere.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HARVEST HOMECOMING EVENT?
This is so hard. I really love all of our events for different reasons. I am so excited about the parade this year. Our Parade VP, Allyson Glass, has really put in so much effort to take our parade to the next level, and I can’t wait to see the community be able to enjoy her hard work. I LOVE Pumpkin Chunkin and what that partnership with Purdue Polytechnic Institute has done to further STEM education and awareness in our community.
The Business Luncheon is hands down THE (clap) BEST (clap) luncheon, probably in the world.
I also really enjoy our Riverfront Events from the car show to the concerts and new this year, the Harvest Hops Beer Fest.
With help from our friends at Sounds Unlimited Productions, Alpha Media and Monarch Beverage, we’re working to bring exciting concert experiences to the Riverfront Amphitheater this year. Also, if you haven’t been to the Kid’s Dog Show, I highly recommend it. Super-cute dogs, even cuter kids; it’s the best way to spend a Monday evening at the Riverfront Amphitheater.
WHAT FOOD IS A MUST-TRY AT HARVEST HOMECOMING?
LOL. Literally everything. A couple years ago, myself and a couple of the ladies in the festival started a new tradition called “Smorgasbord Sunday.” I would venture to say the three of us spend 20 to 30 bucks apiece, we all get something different, go in a room at the Harvest Homecoming Office where no one can find us and we pig out. Some of our favorites are Brooklyn & the Butcher’s loaded potato and steak tips, Mason donuts, ribbon potatoes with cheese sauce and beans, and greens and cornbread from Chef Walker.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE WHO HAS NEVER EXPERIENCED HARVEST HOMECOMING?
Be prepared to have fun and be patient. We are so blessed that hundreds of thousands of people choose to visit our city every year during the first week in October, but that also means a bit of congestion. I would make sure you’re following Harvest Homecoming, the City of New Albany and SoIN Tourism on social media so you can plan your perfect Harvest Homecoming visit. We have something for literally every age and interest.