Valley shows off its best at Harvest Fest

Good weather, good crowds grace event’s 20th anniversary

A harvest (fest) of plenty described many things over the weekend. There was plenty of sunshine and warm weather. Plenty of food. Plenty of people. And plenty of fun from the Expo Center to the fairgrounds and all around the valley’s Fruit Loop as the 20th annual Harvest Fest went off without a hitch.

According to tallies from the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce, about 22,000 people funneled through the Expo Center over the weekend to peruse the craft and food booths.

Genevieve Scholl, public affairs marketing director for the chamber, said that was about “average.”

“Last year, we had about 24,500 visitors,” she said. “But that was a record year. So we’re feeling real good about the attendance.” Scholl said the vendors all did well.

“It seemed like everyone was in the mood to eat and shop,” she said. “Several new vendors said they’ll definitely be back next year.”

At least one group of visitors was especially impressed by the festivities: the film crew and producers from The Travel Channel who were in Hood River over the weekend to film a segment for an upcoming show about natural wonders of the West.

“They had budgeted 45 minutes and ended up spending about three hours at Harvest Fest,” Scholl said. “They got a lot of great footage.” They also checked out some of the other valley events, and spent time at Rasmussen Farms.

The Travel Channel program highlighting Hood River, Mount Hood and the Columbia Gorge is scheduled to air in February.

“I think it’s really nice when an event can sort of ripple out over the course of the year as far as promotional benefits are concerned,” Scholl said.

The chamber’s efforts to market the multitude of events happening around the valley together seemed to pay off. The “Harvest Time” brochures given out at the Expo Center included a map and information about 16 events going on around the valley, including the Gorge Fruit and Craft Fair.

Clara Rice, organizer of that event at the fairgrounds, said crowds “were great both days.”

“Saturday was just awesome,” she said. “It was just a steady flow all day long.” Sunday was slow getting started, she said, but picked up as the day went on.

“It was good and it was fun,” she said. Rice added that she talked to a lot of people who had traveled a good distance for the weekend’s events — including many from Eugene and Salem and several from Seattle.

“I think we had a very good weekend here in the valley,” she said.

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