Every fall, the smell of fresh donuts and apple dumplings fill the air in the downtown streets of New Albany, Indiana. The sounds of the hit & miss engine making ice cream and cheerful chatter swell in the streets as the Harvest Homecoming festival begins, and new memories are ready to be made. 

booths line the street at Harvest Homecoming

In its 50th year, we thought we would ask some long-time festival goers about their favorite memories. Here are a few locals who love Harvest Homecoming and have memories to share. Want to share yours?  

Greg Johnson

When I moved to the New Albany area in the ‘70s, it didn’t take me long to zero in on Harvest Homecoming. It was the food that brought me.

As a teenager, I had worked on the Indiana State Fair midway, and I was all too familiar with fill-in-the-blank festival food, where the same Italian-sausage guy drives the same Italian-sausage truck from Illinois to Ohio to Indiana. As does the elephant-ear guy. And the pizza guy. But Harvest Homecoming is different, loaded with real, homemade, handcrafted New Albany food — “grandma food."  

What’s your favorite part of Harvest Homecoming? 

I head straight for the booths, looking for two types of goodies: Food to eat now, and food to eat later. 

Without singling out particular purveyors, here’s what I consider the best finds:

Food to take home: Homemade persimmon pudding (rich, caramelized and delicious, a little bite goes a long way), homemade bread, homemade jellies, and jams.

Food to eat on the spot: Chicken and dumplings (I like one variety better than the other, but never can remember which one, so I always buy both). Also: Freshly made caramel corn, pulled-pork barbecue sandwiches, walking tacos (chili in a Fritos bag), and super-stuffed baked potatoes. I refuse to stand in that doughnut line, but they must be pretty darned delicious.

What I miss: grilled chicken dinners, hot apple cider, Indian bread.

Tips to enjoy Harvest Homecoming 

Don’t worry if it rains; get wet. And don’t forget to buy a Harvest Homecoming pin.

Jessica Taylor

How many years have you been going to Harvest Homecoming?

I've been attending the Harvest Homecoming as long as I can remember. I've lived in the area most of my life, and even when I didn't live here, I came home for Harvest Homecoming because it is my favorite time of year. 

What’s your favorite part of Harvest Homecoming?

I don't know where to begin. There's the food--apple dumplings, chicken and dumplings, sweet roasted nuts, gyros, pumpkin ice cream, and pork chop sandwiches. Then, there are the different craft booths, which always catch my attention. And, it wouldn't be Harvest Homecoming without the beer walk, which is where you run into all of the locals. 

Have you been in the parade?

I was part of the Pilot Club in New Albany for many years and worked on their float in the parade. I always had fun helping design and build the float. The first year we were in the parade, our float was covered in items pulled from Safety Town, and the last year I worked on the parade, we had a Wizard of Oz themed float, and I was dressed as Dorothy. We always had fun participating in the parade! 

A float in the annual parade at Harvest HomecomingWhat are your tips for enjoying the festival?

Park on State Street or at one of the local churches in downtown. Those are some of the easiest places to get in and out of for the event. Spring Street gets backed up during the festival. Pick a starting point, and work your way up and down the streets. Don't stop and block the walkways. If you want the donuts, the apple dumplings, or the Redman's chicken and dumplings, get there early because they sell out. 

Have you ever missed?

Nope. Not ever. It is on my calendar every year, and I make no other plans than to attend Harvest Homecoming that weekend. 

What do you do if it rains?

Take an umbrella, wear galoshes and a raincoat, and plan to be water-logged. 

Courtney Paris

How many years have you been going to Harvest Homecoming?

As long as I can remember. I can even remember my parents taking me when I was little.

What’s your favorite part of Harvest Homecoming?

The food! Chicken and dumplings by Redman's Club, and apple dumplings by St. John’s and the Boy Scouts’ corn! Twenty years ago, it was my first date with my ex-husband. He proposed on Pearl Street because that's where Harvest Homecoming was. It's a sentimental event to me.

What’s your favorite float?

If my kids are on one, then that one! 

What are your tips for enjoying the festival?

Wear comfortable shoes, bring cash, and don't be in a hurry.

Michelle Collins 

How many years have you been going to Harvest Homecoming?

Since I was a small child. 

What’s your favorite part? 

Twofold, the food booths and running into old friends. When my children were small, the parade and rides were at the top of the list as well. 

Have you been in the parade?

Many times. My mother used to live in a house on Spring Street and we would watch from her front yard. I was also in the parade as a teenager. 

What are your tips for enjoying the festival?

Try a little bit of food from each unique homemade booth. Don't fill up at one. It's a good atmosphere to people watch as well. 

Brooke Schafer

How many years have you been going to Harvest Homecoming?

25 years

What’s your favorite part of Harvest Homecoming?

The amazing food. I am happy to stand in line for 1 hour for donuts.

What are your tips for enjoying the festival?

Come hungry, prepare to spend the day there is so much to see for the family. 

Have you ever missed?

I have, I made an error in booking a vacation and had to miss. That will not happen again.

What do you do if it rains?

Still go. Take an umbrella. Can't miss the donuts!

Scenes from previous years' Harvest Homecoming

Enjoying some of Harvest Homecoming's food 

Eating corn on the cob at Harvest Homecoming

New Albany's Riverfront Amphitheater during a concert

New Albany riverfront theater during a concert

Jo Peers, left, in the Floyd County Animal Rescue League booth, gives Ryan Allen, 6, of Georgetown another ball to throw as her mother, Ann Allen, waits at the 2015 Harvest Homecoming.

Girl plays a game at a Harvest Homecoming booth.

Want to find out more? Visit the Harvest Homecoming website.