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2023 Harvest & Herb festival fires on all cylinders

The Icon's Harvest & Herb Festival video is HERE.

By Paula Scott

A “just the facts” report on the 2023 Harvest & Herb Festival would read something along these lines: the weather was mild, the parade lasted 40 minutes, there were 185 vendors and Jillian Hazelton was crowned the festival queen.

The 2023 festival was one of those days that make me love fall. Ada’s Main Street was filled with sunshine and smiles. The blocks from Highland to the Dicke College of Business were busy but never uncomfortably so. The tightest fit was when the parade threaded its way through the booths and crowds but parade entries and onlookers were on best behavior.

Chamber director Linsday Walden-Hollar told me in advance that the festival–in its 37th year–kind of runs itself. I take that to mean there are many return volunteers who know how to do their jobs and do them well.

The following sampling of vendors provides a glimpse of the variety offered by the festival:

ONU’S Habitat for Humanity was among the local organizations offering activities, information and the chance to support local charitable causes. The young men at the Habitat booth were offering bunches of baked goods with the cry “Just $1, this is a steal!” They noted that this was the first time they had come to the festival to fundraise and would be doing a fall leaf raking fundraiser later in the fall. “A lot of our time goes to volunteering at the Lima Restore,” their spokesman said, “during winter break we will go down south to work on a build site.”

Potter Andrew Steingass is a “made in Ada” artist. He has done the show 10-15 times since graduating from the ONU art program. The festival appeals to him because he gets a lot of traffic and people interested in the things he's selling: “It's just a fun day, especially when the weather is nice like this.” Steingass works out of his own studio north of Ada where he produces pieces with wood-fired and electric-fired glazes.

Among the many food trucks and food booths, offering everything from substantial meals to snack of popcorn and nuts, is the funnel cake vendor from Russel’s Point.They note the business has been at the Ada show for over a decade, in the same spot in front of the theater. “I don't think any festival is a festival without funnel cakes,” the proprietor says. I also learn that this is a family business, run to help fund their kid’s college educations. The kids normally work the booth, but have a soccer game that day. 

I chatted with a retired nurse who was enjoying her first time at the Ada festival, which she called, “perfect, awesome.” Look for her to be back with her patriotic quilts and doll clothes, which she put on ceramic figures and a doll’s bench that she also made.

A young vendor from Kenton emphasized how much she enjoys the festival: “You get to meet different people and they're from all over. You get to see other artists’ stuff." She explained that she has always enjoyed doing art and realized one day “why don't I try selling it?” She does four to five shows a year with Ada being the biggest. “It turns out great every year.”

Stay tuned for a separate report on the crowing of the festival queen.