Harvest Festival changing things up this year

Tom Harrigan (courtesy of St. Paul Firefighters Local 21)

The Harvest Festival has been an East Side tradition for more than 100 years, and while its gone through its ups and downs, it’s been a constant in the community.

This year the annual tradition will include some old and new activities. The parade and medallion hunt will return, but a new type of festival will take place, said Rebecca Nelson, one of the planners for this year’s activities. She’s a board member of the Payne Arcade Business Association and president of the St. Paul East Side Lions Club, among countless other boards she serves on for East Side organizations. 

While Harvest Festival activities were mainly planned by the business association in the past, this year’s activities are being planned by Nelson along with East Side Pizzeria owner Richard Finch, LeeAnn Larson, an East Side resident and admin for a neighborhood page on Facebook, and many volunteers.

Nelson said the parade will stay the same, starting at noon on Saturday, Sept. 28, and traveling down Payne Avenue. New this year will be the East Side Community Festival, taking place right after the parade in the parking lot of the East Side YMCA, 875 Arcade St. 

The festival will include vendors, free food donated by Cub Foods and a stage featuring cultural performances meant to highlight the diversity of the East Side. Nelson said she’s still looking for groups who would like to perform — she can be contacted at 651-442-5008.

She said the festival may be small this year, but that its planners expect it to grow in the future.

Many of the other traditional Harvest Festival activities are returning this year. The first clue for the medallion hunt will be released on Friday, Sept. 13, on the Lions’ Club website, ESlions.com. Clues will be released each day until the medallion is found, or until Sept. 22. 

Other Harvest Festival activities will include a booya cookout on Saturday, Sept. 21, at First Lutheran Church at 463 Maria Ave. from noon to 3 p.m. The annual Harvest Festival dinner will return on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 6 p.m. at the Arcade-Phalen American Legion, 1129 Arcade St., and includes a homemade bundt cake competition.

The same day as the parade and East Side Community Festival, a pancake breakfast will be held at Arlington Hills Lutheran Church, 1115 Greenbrier St., from 8 to 11 a.m.

Power cards, which serve as a fundraiser for the Harvest Festival parade and festival, can be purchased for $20 at East Side Pizzeria, Tongue in Cheek restaurant, Brunson’s Pub, Karibu Grocery and Deli, and Port and Starboard tattoo parlor. The cards provide a number of discounts at East Side businesses.  

For more information about Harvest Festival activities, check out the St. Paul East Side Lions’ Club website, ESlions.com. 


— Marjorie Otto

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