LOMBARD – When volunteers were working to plan the first-time event, Harvest Festival, their estimates projected a crowd of about 200 people max.
Not wanting to overspend, they only ordered enough food and beverages to serve that size crowd, but when the festival rolled around Saturday, there were between four and five times more people.
Despite long lines for food, despite running out of supplies toward the end of the day, event organizers said the event was very successful, very well received in the community and something that will happen again.
“We had a tremendous response,” said Jerry Nash of the Prairie Food Co-op, one of the sponsors.
Harvest Festival was developed by volunteers with the Prairie Food Co-op and the Lombard Historical Society to showcase the accessibility of eating locally produced foods and proving people with historical education opportunities.
The event featured custom-made sausage from Shannon’s Corner Butcher Shoppe, locally sourced corn and beer, and wine tastings hosted by 20 West Wine and Spirits, including Flesk Brewing Company of Lombard.
The historical society had stations where people could learn about churning butter, pressing apples for cider and handwashing clothes. There was also a live band and square dancers from several suburban clubs.
Despite the long lines, Nash said he received great feedback about the food that was served.
“People were psyched,” he said. “They were having a good time.”
Harvest Festival raised money to help the Lombard Historical Society pay for its Carriage House expansion and for the Prairie Food Co-op to fund its sustainability study.
A food co-op is a grocery store that is owned by community members who buy shares in the business and have a say in how the store is run. Food cooperatives typically carry locally sourced food products and support the local economy.
Nash said the event volunteers were planning a meeting to address issues from this year’s Harvest Festival and make plans to repeat the event next year.
“I think this event showed people that they can have a good time while having relationships with local businesses and local food providers,” he said.