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It's harvest time

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By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

A record crowd and special attractions may have combined for what organizers consider a very successful 9th Annual Harvest Showcase.

WHAS-11 personality Reed Yadon held a live remote broadcast from the Henry County Fairgrounds early Saturday morning and commented that he didn’t remember ever seeing so many people arrive so early for an event that did not open until 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, a steady stream of vehicles could be seen jockeying for parking spots behind him. Soon the parking lot was full and organizers got permission for attendees to park at the adjacent farm. Parking attendants said it was the first time they’d ever used the overflow field for parking during the Showcase.

Henry County Judge-Executive and Showcase Committee Member John Logan Brent said that his best guess at attendance was between 3,500-4,000. “It was probably the biggest one we’ve ever had,” he said. Brent said that judging from the number of vehicles in overflow parking, attendance was up by at least 500.

Brent attributed the increase to a couple of attractions. Brent noted that this year the Antique Tractor Show and Pull was a factor. “We showcased the antique tractors twice as much as in past years,” he said.

Brent also felt that a massive log brought in on a flatbed truck was a hit. The seven-foot in diameter trunk came from Daniel Boone’s grave after the tree was hit by lightning.

“People really enjoyed that,” he said.

Brent said that the Showcase Committee worked all day Friday readying the fairgrounds for Saturday’s event.

“It’s been a long weekend,” he said.

All the preparation paid off and farmers markets and arts and crafts booths did a brisk business.

Bonnie Lander, proprietress of Bethlehem’s Holy Branch Gourds displayed hand-painted folk art gourds and ornaments, as well as home-made artisan soaps and hand-turned wooden bowls.

Holy Branch is a family business owned by Bonnie and husband, Art that also includes Lander’s children Laura, 22, John, 20, and Maggie, 16. “I’ve been doing this for about 35 years,” Lander said.

Laura Landers makes cold-processed soaps using essential oils and lye. “It’s kind of like grandma used to make,” she said. “I’ve always loved soap ever since I was little.”

Mike and Kelly Prenn of Eminence arrived about 1 p.m. Pushing their son Charles in a stroller, they made their way toward the food and festivities. “We come up here for the fresh produce,” Mike Prenn said. “It’s much better than Kroger.”

Paula Hawkins, a lifelong resident of Port Royal and owner of Highland Park Farm backed up that statement with some free bread samples. She offered fresh baked strawberry and zucchini bread that were made from her homegrown produce. “I’ve been in the farming business 45 years,” she said.

Pat Whitaker and Kathy Waford staffed United Citizens Bank’s promotional booth. On lunch break they could both be found dressing burgers at the fair kitchen. Garnishing their sandwiches with crimson tomato slices, Whitaker shared her favorite aspect of Harvest Showcase. “Food!” she said. “Oh, and homemade ice cream!”

Terry and Dina McAllister run Windy Acres Farm outside Pleasureville. “We’ve been a part of the showcase for seven years,” Dina McAllister said. McAllister noted that husband, Terry started out growing a few rare heirloom plants. “Now we have 100 varieties and 500 plants,” she said. The tomatoes McAllister brought to the showcase were red, orange, green, pink, white and some mottled “ugly tomatoes.” Lumpy and purple the uglies were purported to taste the best of all.

Brent noted that probably the biggest draw of all this year was the performance of Patrick Henry Hughes, the gifted young man featured on ABC’s popular Extreme Makeover: Home Edition earlier this year.

Hughes performed at 10 a.m. under the dining tent to a standing-room-only crowd. His final number was “I’ll Fly Away.”

“Everyone had goosebumps,” Brent said. “It was a special event on a special day.”

E-mail us about this article at news@hclocal.com.