CINCINNATI — The Harvest Home Festival has been an annual tradition for over 150 years, but organizers said a new generation needs to take up the reins if they want to keep it going.
Although several thousand people packed the sidewalks of Cheviot Thursday evening to watch the Harvest Home Fair Parade, the event's future has been in limbo for years.
“This is something I did as a kid. My grandparents brought me here. My parents brought me here,” said Sherree Thomas, who does publicity for the Harvest Home Fair. “It’s something that was part of my heritage.”
But there’s a problem.
“For one thing, we’re all getting older,” Harvest Home Fair public relations chair Bonnie Perrino said. “We can’t keep up. New members aren’t coming out. They have other things. That’s just part of life, I guess.”
The parade was rained out in 2018 and canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. With each passing year, Bonnie Perino knows the people who run the fair aren’t getting any younger.
“Most of us Kiwanis are 65 and older,” she said. “The young group we have gotten through the Harvest Home Association is all younger. In their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. That’s what we need. That’s what we need to keep this going."
It was that feeling of community that made people like Thomas step up.
“I was like, ‘Nope, can’t let something happen to the fair. If there’s something I can do, I’ll do it,’” she said. “I went to a meeting. Didn’t know what I was getting myself into.”
The past few years have been a wild ride for what’s known as Ohio’s largest small fair.
“Those of us who have been going to the fair have taken it for granted: ‘Of course the fair will be there,’” Thomas said. “I think you don’t really realize how much these people all these years have been doing to make the fair happen.”
The board is now made up of multiple generations to build a future so the fair can keep going for decades to come.
"It's a treasure,” Perrino said. “It really is."