MOUNT POCONO – The 20th annual Mount Pocono Harvest Festival & Craft Fair will once again fill downtown Mount Pocono with crafters, farmers, bakers, music, food, & fun on Saturday, September 24.
Sponsored by the Mount Pocono Association, the annual festival began in 2001. Originally called the “Mount Pocono Harvest, Music, Arts & Crafts Festival,” the first festival was a two-day affair in October, featuring about 20 vendors, local bands, and artists.
Vincent April, proprietor of the Old Village Trader, a Mount Pocono consignment shop, was one of the original organizers. He says the idea was generated from the work of him and other Mount Pocono Association members with the Jacob Stroud Corporation of the annual fall festival in downtown Stroudsburg.
“We thought Mount Pocono deserved to have its own Festival,” said Mr. April. “We wanted to get the whole community involved — merchants, residents, Realtors, teachers, everyone.”
Other than for a three-year period from 2015-2018, when the festival took place on the fairgrounds of the Pocono Mountain Volunteer Fire Company, it has been a downtown mainstay for nearly a generation.
The festival is now a one-day affair – rain or shine – and has been the last Saturday in September for at least 15 years. It has grown considerably from fewer than two dozen vendors to well over 100, plus food trucks, a children’s activity area, and a full day of entertainment and demonstrations.
This year the entertainment includes the Pocono Mountain East High School Chorus, the popular local band Identity Crisis, street magic from Mr. Misterio, two martial arts school demonstrations, and two dance studio performances. Festival entertainment director, Mary Negron, of Reach for the Stars Dance Studio, said she was excited to add a demonstration from the over-40 “Double Dutch Club” to the lineup.
In addition to downtown foodie favorites the Little Rock Cafe (inside Pocono Rocks) and the Fork Street Bistro, there will be several popular local food vendors.
Cindy VanGilder will be bringing her “Meet me at the Jubliee” food stand, joining offerings from Twisted Burgerz N Wrapz, Savory Eats, Rk Mobile Foods, and the Fi5e J’s food truck.
Joining the festival this year will also be the Shawnee Craft Brewing Company Beer Truck!
New this year are “Artisan’s Alley” and the “Farmer’s Market.” Vendor Organizer Tom Ford, of The Boro & Towne News, says the Mount Pocono Association wanted to broaden the appeal of the festival vendor lineup to include artists and handmade goods, along with the popular direct vendors and retail sellers.
“We thought, what’s a ‘HarvestFest’ without the Harvest?”, Mr. Ford said. “So we reached out to select growers and food producers so they could offer their product to our discerning festival patrons.”
“But the rising star of this year’s festival will be our new ‘Artisan’s Alley’,” he said. “We were blown away by its popularity.” Originally conceived for the overflow area along the tree-lined Fairview Avenue, with about three dozen artists and crafters, their handmade offerings will line one full side of Main Street (Route 611) in the borough.
“It’s a great way to get a head start on holiday shopping,” pointed out Association president, Jodi Bohdal, who runs Pocono Rocks and the Little Rocks Cafe with her husband.
With the sale of the Casino Theatre property, this year the children’s activities, first responders, and community organizations will fill Fork Street and the empty lot alongside the Fork Street Bistro.
Don Struckle, who with his wife, Karen, used to operate the Casino, is now a member of the borough council and has arranged for borough trucks to attend the festival for Mount Pocono’s first “Touch a Truck” event for kids of all ages.
Returning to the festival this year are the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department, the Regional EMS, and the Pennsylvania State Police.
This being an election year, festgoers will also have the opportunity to interact with Democratic and Republican party candidates at their respective party booths on main street.
Ms. Bohdal wanted to be sure to mention the hard work of the Mount Pocono Association board and membership on this year’s festival. Planning literally began two weeks after last year’s festival ended.
In addition to Ms. Negron, herself, Mr. April, Mr. Struckle, and Mr. Ford, deserving credit for the tremendous success of this year’s event are Tameka Brown (Citizen’s Bank), Amy Buffington (PMSD) Anthony Gilbert (Poconos Best Karate), Matt Hensel (Big Screen Escapes), Ryan Kim (US Taekwando), Colleen McGuire (Pocono Rocks), Karen Struckle (Mt Pocono tax collector), and Pam Watkins (Fork Street Bistro). Ms. Bohdal also expressed appreciation for the cooperation of the borough council and borough manager in helping make this year’s event a success.
Martz Bus and the American Legion have generously offered their parking lots as free parking for festival attendees. The legion is located on Fairview Avenue and Elm Street. Fairview is closed until Elm, so take Kinney Avenue to Elm to reach the parking behind the former church and rectory that is now home to the Legion.
The 2022 HarvestFest is in downtown Mount Pocono on Saturday, September 24, from 10am to 5pm.
The festival will go on rain or shine.
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