Harvest Homecoming guest column follow-up: Our peculiar institution has no basis in ordinance, only habit.


On Thursday, I handed over my weekly ON THE AVENUES column slot to downtown independent business owner Cisa Kubley.

ON THE AVENUES: A downtown business owner’s open letter to Harvest Homecoming.

As of Saturday morning, it has become the single most read ON THE AVENUES of 2017, doubling the views usually garnered by one of my columns.

This is richly deserved. Cisa’s essay is cogent and hard-hitting, and I’m delighted she submitted it to NA Confidential. It’s an example of a point-of-view the newspaper cannot do in mandating 250-word letters to the editor — and probably wouldn’t even then, as I suspect there’s gold in those Harvest Homecoming advertisements.

In the interest of fairness, I’ve spoken to David White, chairman of the board of Harvest Homecoming. He is writing a column in reply to Cisa’s, and I hope his essay will be ready for posting on Thursday, November 9.

Regular readers already know that Cisa’s argument mirrors that of this blog.

These aren’t new issues, these aren’t new complaints. At what point will the Harvest Homecoming committee and the city finally make adjustments for the betterment of the whole community, not just those who enjoy the festival?

With all due respect to the history of Harvest Homecoming and my assumption of good intentions on the part of the committee, I simply cannot support an event that shows such blatant disregard and disrespect for the year-round businesses that lose money year after year.

I’ll add only that the very weakest arguments mustered in response to critiques of Harvest Homecoming are these: It’s inevitable; it’s always been done this way; if you don’t like it, just leave.

Apart from the fact of the city’s existence for 150 years prior to the advent of Harvest Homecoming, it should be pointed out that the festival’s inevitability has no absolutely no basis in statute.

Harvest Homecoming is mentioned exactly twice in the city’s rule book for self-governance (excerpts below), first with regard to daily leased parking in the lot adjacent to the festival’s headquarters, and then as the recipient of an annual exception to registration requirements for “peddlers and solicitors.”

Every other facet of Harvest Homecoming’s peak street grid usage during the parade and subsequent booth days — except for Dan Coffey’s commandeering of city-owned property to park cars for self-enrichment — is vetted and approved yearly by the Board of Public Works and Safety, just like any other request to interrupt normal operational procedures for a special activity.

Harvest Homecoming cannot function as it does without the express consent of the city, as well as traditionally uncounted city expenditures for ancillaries and overtime.

Knowing this, think again about the points made by Cisa Kubley in her guest column. In essence, City Hall approves that her business and others like it be inconvenienced for the benefit of the festival.

Why is that?