NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) – The booths are open and the food is hot over at Harvest Homecoming in New Albany.
The riverfront town will transform this weekend as thousands of people fill the downtown for the annual event. In its 51st year, this family tradition will bring thousands of people to the downtown community over the next few days.
"Fish sandwich?" calls George Tipker with the Borden Lions Club.
At Harvest Homecoming, it seems there’s always a line for the fish sandwiches here at this booth. For many, a stop here for a bite to eat is tradition. "A lot of people come back year after year for fish sandwiches," Tipker said.
Out of the 51 Harvest Homecoming events, their lions club branch has made nearly all of them.
“We’ve only missed the first two. So it’s been 49 years. We’re the longest club that’s been setting up here at Harvest Homecoming,” Tipker said.
The food vendors opened up shop here at noon and already hundreds of people are filling up the streets of downtown New Albany, ready to pick up everything from donuts to fried fish and even gyros. They’ve got something for everybody and they’ll be open through the weekend.
“It is already busy. I don’t know how we expected so many people to come out on a Thursday but it is slamming right now,” said Igor Guryashkin.
The booth for Brooklyn and the Butcher and the Exchange, both brick and mortar restaurants downtown, is filled with staff from the restaurants. Guryashkin said he and the others spend Harvest Homecomings here cooking up and serving to the crowds.
“Yeah, it’s like a nightclub right now. We’re going to have to get a bouncer sooner or later,” Guryashkin said.
“I got the half order pretzel and beer cheese, they have the best beer cheese,” said Becky Fehr.
She and Dana Burgin work nearby so they walked over for lunch. The chance to pick up food from Brooklyn and Butcher is a stop they look forward to.
“I haven’t tried this yet so we’re going to try it today,” Burgin said.
This isn’t the first time Brooklyn and the Butcher has opened up shop at Harvest Homecoming events but the pace here has picked up.
"It’s been noticeably busier every time,” Guryashkin said. “I think people keep coming back for our steak tips.”
The transformation of the downtown in New Albany could have something to do with this added traffic, he said.
"It's just really cool to see this downtown New Albany grow so much and kind of expand, year on year and get so much busier. And I think it shows the fact that even now, here on a Thursday, we are everything kind of slammed against a wall and just trying to control people and serve all the food that they're craving," Guryashkin said.
Even on a weekday, families pour into downtown to explore the event. In its 51st year, Harvest Homecoming will draw in hundreds of thousands of visitors to New Albany through the weekend for games, crafts and food.
Eight-year-old Hudson Lannan and his siblings are here for the donuts made fresh at the masonic temple’s stand. The ten-minute wait is well worth the sweet treat at the end.
"We'd like one bag please. Six please!" Bailey Lannan ordered at the donut booth window, her kids following behind eagerly.
"How are they?” she asked.
“They're good," Hudson said.
For more information, including a schedule of events, visit the Harvest Homecoming website here.