Fall in New York is all about sweater-weather, pumpkin spice, the colors changing, fall foods and of course, the fun activities that take place all over the city. And one of the best is the annual Meatpacking District’s Harvest Fest, held Saturday October 12th at Hudson River Park in Chelsea. The event, partnered with The Chelsea Local, brought together 25 vendors, from the restaurant sector to Google and the beauty brand Sephora, offering something of interest to everyone.
This year's fest started at eleven and within an hour the park was filled with people of all varieties - families with children, young people with their friends, seniors, dog lovers and more. Besides food, drinks, clothing, jewelry and beauty products, there were live performances, such as the Drag Queen Story Hour, as well as fun activities for kids, like mini pumpkin decorating and a coloring book station. There was even a special event for dog owners - a dog blessing ceremony.
An Annual Tradition for Many
Everyone I interviewed emphasized that is was an event for all generations, which is probably the reason so many people have made it an annual tradition. Many of the vendors were also back for more. In some cases, visitors loved it so much in previous years that they decided to have their own booths this year. That was the case with Joanne LeFrancois and her husband, who come down from Connecticut every year to join the fest. This year they had a booth with plants and florals.
“I think Harvest Fest is wonderful,” LeFrancois said, “with all the people around and there’s so much activity. Plus, I am a huge animal person. I love the dogs and all the costumes, it’s a lot of fun.”
Jen Goodman, who visited the fest with her husband and twin daughters, Mia and Kate, said it was the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon in the fall in New York. “It is fantastic, great booths with lots of fun for the kids. It is a nice way to use public space and a fantastic event for families with all the arts and crafts. Everyone is having fun,” Goodman said.
Fun and Relevant
By no means, however, was it families only. Gabby Lennon and Margaret Yannopoulos, both in their twenties, have made it a tradition to go to the festival every year. “It is an interesting event for New York, because we don’t have a lot of outdoor events. There is no community sense really, so this is a nice chance to have that,” Yannopoulos said.
In addition to the fun, some vendor had more serious messages to pass on. Tessa Edick and the FarmOn! Foundation partnered with Google to “keep farmers farming” and to make sure people buy local apples during the month of October. “You can support your local family farm just by biting into an apple!” Edick said. Edick and her team want to raise awareness and re-establish the cultural value of farming, but also provide children with healthier school lunches.
In line with the ongoing climate crisis, the folks from The Economist wanted to call attention to “the unknowns of plastic pollution,” and encouraged people to bring any piece of plastic to its cart in exchange for a cup of coffee and a lesson about the economic dangers of plastic pollution.
A Sense of Community
After an afternoon at the festival, there was no way I couldn’t feel as enthusiastic about the event, as the people I interviewed. All the vendors were friendly and gave away free, delicious snacks, such as spicy meatballs, tomato and squash soup, mini tacos and other, mostly fall-themed, things. Everything was beautifully decorated - even the trash cans were wrapped in cloth.
Not only do you come home from Harvest Fest with a bag of goodies and a full stomach, but also with a sense of community and locality, something you don’t experience every day in a big city like New York.