The 2021 Harvest Festival is just one week away - and with the opportunity to gather in person for all the events this year, everyone is excited. The Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce Special Events Committee has been busy for the past year planning and organizing a full slate of activities for this year’s festival.
With the community unable to gather in 2020 due to the pandemic, the festival committee selected the theme, “Survivor 2021: Riding Through the Pandemic” to represent this year. The Special Events Committee focuses primarily on the Harvest Festival, and has been working this year to add new events to some of the favorites from past years.
“Every year, the Chamber looks forward to providing fun activities for the community during Harvest Festival, and 2019 was one of our best years,” said Chamber Director Deb Egenberger. “We were so excited about the things we had planned in 2020 and now we will get to have those events this year.”
One of those new events will kick off the festival this year on Thursday, Sept. 16, as individuals and businesses are invited to get into the spirit of things by decorating their sidewalks and storefronts. Chalk The Walk will allow people to show off their artsy talents using sidewalk chalk throughout the downtown area, while encouraging everyone to stroll the walks and check out the local businesses in the process. Egenberger said she is hoping this event will be something that will continue to grow and develop, as several of the Harvest Festival activities have.
One of those long-standing events is the annual Dog-N-Jog sponsored by Eastside Animal Center - now in its 19th year. The 5K run or 1-mile fun run/walk is held at Lake Helen on Thursday, Sept. 16 beginning at 8 p.m. Proceeds from the Dog-N-Jog benefit the Gothenburg United Fund. If you have not yet registered for the event you can still participate; race day registration begins at 7:30 p.m.
Highlights on Friday’s activity schedule include another new event for 2021 - a fireworks show and glow party at Lake Helen. The glow party will get underway in conjunction with the start of the football game as the Swedes host St. Paul, and the fireworks show is set to begin about 15 minutes after the conclusion of the football game.
The fun continues throughout the day on Saturday, Sept. 18, with the Lions Club serving pancakes in Ehmen Park beginning at 7 a.m. followed by the Harvest Festival parade at 10 a.m. The Methodist Church will be serving lunch starting at 11 a.m. at the church.
Ehmen Park will be a hub of activity as Arts in the Park returns downtown with a wide variety of vendors set up in the park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students from Gymnastics West will perform in the park between noon and 1:30 p.m. and the always popular bed races will get started at 2:00 on Avenue F along the east side of the park.
Later Saturday afternoon many festival attendees will make their way downtown for the Cornhole Tournament - the second appearance for this activity. This year the Gothenburg Rotary will be running the tournament, which will also feature live music, food and a beer garden. It all gets started at 4 p.m. at the Sun Theatre. Participants must be at least 21-years-old. Proceeds from the Cornhole Tournament benefit Gothenburg Rotary.
“This is our first time doing this and we are pretty excited about it. It should be a lot of fun,” said Jim Graff, Rotary member and coordinator for the event.
Sunday will feature a community inter-denominational worship service at Ehmen Park at 8 a.m. Guests are encouraged to bring a lawn chair. A car show featuring antiques, classics, customs, street rods, rat rods, muscle cars, trucks, motorcycles and more will begin at 11 a.m. and run until 3 p.m. The car show, also held at Ehmen Park, will include live music by Job Vigil from 12 - 2 p.m. along with prizes and food available. A co-ed softball tournament will be played at the four-plex on Sunday beginning at 9 a.m., and that evening everyone is invited to enjoy a barbecue at the four-plex with serving open to the public from 4 - 7 p.m. The cookout competition will be held in the grass area at the intersection of Avenue I and 12th Street.
The goal of the 2021 Harvest Festival is to provide activities for all ages and areas of interest and create an opportunity to come together again as a community in celebration of “Riding Through The Pandemic”.