Thursday, September 28, 2006

There'll be good beer at Harvest Homecoming this year, thanks to Bistro New Albany.

Harvest Homecoming is by far New Albany’s largest annual celebration, drawing tens of thousands natives and visitors to a variety of events ranging from an already concluded Knobs bicycle ride to a queen’s contest, and from a dog show to the always crowded “booth days” downtown.

Alas – and phrased as diplomatically as I’m capable of being – for many of the same reasons that the city of New Albany has found it difficult to reinvent itself during changing times, and has found future visions elusive, Harvest Homecoming remains firmly wedded to the lesser of common denominators.

Of course, this is not to demean the earnest efforts of those who have spent many years volunteering their time and organizing the festival’s “family-oriented” activities.

But as regular readers know, I firmly believe that in any mass market, there are underserved niches … and in the case of Harvest Homecoming, these absences have (until recently – the music has improved) included too few reflections of cultural diversity, staid entertainment options, and by-the-numbers food and drink offerings.

Specifically, there have been few alternatives to mass-market, industrial swill in proximity to downtown during Harvest Homecoming – and particularly, in the officially sanctioned beer garden.

Last year, the owners of the now defunct House of Bread restaurant approached NABC with an offer to sell our beer during booth days, and we were happy to comply. Several customers have remarked that having an Elector salvaged the day for them.

This year, with the advent of the Bistro New Albany, fest goers are guaranteed the availability of more good beer than ever before during booth days. The Daves currently are working on a plan to expand their patio by adding a “beer garden” on the adjacent parking lot. It would feature their full bNA lineup of NABC beers and guests.

We’re optimistic that this year’s Harvest Homecoming booth days will be the first of many that will see local beer aficionados stopping by Bistro New Albany for a pint before braving the sea of humanity for inexplicable elephant ears and rote political party solicitations.

There’s hope for Harvest Homecoming yet.

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