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Harvest Fest 2010 - A Celebration of Each Other

Oct 14 2:28 pm

by Joe Grafton

Where to begin?  I guess, to get a real picture for what Harvest Fest 2010 meant to me and to SLF, we have to go back a few months to the summer.

We’ve talked about our weather-related misfortune at our first outdoor event this year, SomerFun. The fallout from that rainy day in June was that we lost money, had disappointed vendors, I didn’t get paid for seven weeks, and my confidence was shaken.  Needless to say, I’ve started on projects from better head-spaces than where I started  with Harvest Fest.

But, following the lead of the entrepreneurship on which we were founded, we bootstrapped.  Harvest Fest was in our yearly schedule and we were going to make it happen.  And we would, as the kids say these days, ‘go big or go home’.

I’m not sure if it was the right decision at the time (in retrospect, I think it definitely was), but we on the board agreed to not only hold Harvest Fest this year, but to do it ‘right’.  Doing it right meant following the vision for the event and incorporating what we learned last year.

And even with donations of product from the beer vendors and the restaurants, Harvest Fest was not a cheaply produced event.  In fact, our P&L (Profit & Loss statement) for the event puts our total costs at just over $10,000.  Between fire prevention ($2,000 alone), the venue and fairly compensating the performers, SLF stuck its neck out to make Harvest Fest all it could be.

And for me, standing here on the other side of the event, it was all worth it.

Here’s why:

  • We got the food mostly right this year.  After 12 months of listening to people remark about Harvest Fest 2009′s lack of food, I’m excited to be past that with this years strong performance by the Somerville Restaurants.
  • The amount of excitement that Harvest Fest built, and the resultant awareness in the importance of shifting your shopping to local businesses, was a breakthrough for SLF.  I think there are many more people in Somerville and beyond that understand what we do, why we do it…and most importantly, why they should also participate in the local movement.
  • While almost all opinions matter to me, the opinions of colleagues tend to matter most.  At and after Harvest Fest 2010, people who are involved in the event produciton world were incredibly positive and offered tremendous praise.  There will always be some guests who don’t enjoy an event, but when people who produce them for a living tell you you did something right, it’s a really good sign.
  • Local MET Local.  I heard so many of our vendors and participants talking about how they met and conversed with other local businesses.  We hoped this would happen organically, and it seems like it did.

But if there’s one thing I’ll take away from Harvest Fest 2010, it will be the ubiquitous vibe of happiness that permeated the Armory.  Everyone that I talked to at Harvest Fest was just really happy to be there.  Vendors were happy to talk to their guests, and guests to proprietors.  Performers felt valued and were excited to share their skills for the audience.  Guests seemed really excited to enjoy all the local love.  And from what I can tell, the staff also exuded happiness and thankfulness to be part of the production.

For one day, for a few hours, we brought together hundreds of people to eat, drink and be merry together.  We showed our guests and participants that the community surrounding ‘local’ looks better, tastes better and is just more fun.

Its been said many times in the movement, by leaders with far more experience and wisdom than me, that in order to take our movement to a tipping point, we have to make our work “a better party”.  (Side note:  this is why we try to avoid negativity.  Negativity ruins a party)

By the end of Harvest Fest 2010, at least for a day, it was apparent to me that ‘local’ can be one of the best parties out there and that community, far from a dirty word, is in fact it’s what most of us are seeking.

Harvest Fest 2010: Where Local was a better party



Filed under: Harvest Fest, Local First

4 Comments »

  1. Best SLF event ever by leaps and bounds, keep up the amazing work my friend, you make me proud to be a Somervillian

    Comment by Buck — October 14, 2010 @2:39 pm

  2. Well put - everyone’s hard work was apparent in how smoothly everything ran. Thanks for organizing, looking forward to another SLF event!

    Comment by Brendan — October 14, 2010 @2:46 pm

  3. Way to go, Joe! Harvest Fest was a resounding success and the guests I brought, despite being from the other side of the river, finally understood what Somerville pride was all about. A big thank you to all of SLF, the performers, and vendors who worked so hard to produce such an AMAZING event!

    Comment by Sam Coren — October 14, 2010 @3:16 pm

  4. You showed that Somerville truly knows how to throw a party. We weren’t around last year for the first iteration of Harvest Fest, so we had only our imaginations to show us what it might be like - and the reality exceeded our expectations. Thanks to everyone who helped out. We will be back next year!

    Comment by Maggie — October 14, 2010 @9:29 pm

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