This year’s Harvest Festival was undoubtedly the biggest in history, with huge crowds flooding Bethlehem’s Main Street for beer, wine, and foods representing the fall harvest.
The lines for wristbands and passports were ridiculous. Soup tasting tickets sold out (and I heard complaints of people waiting in line to get them, only to get to the front and find they were sold out). Beer and wine wristbands/tickets were aplenty and the stars of the festival, the Lehigh Valley Homebrewers, were out in full force. The kegs were flowing and some of the best beers around were poured that day. Some of the finer samplings include: robust porter, a two year old (fucking amazing, crisp, clear, and refreshing) Scholl’s Orchard cider, a mojito wheat (weird, but oddly tasty), PB&J (always a WTF beer), and double bourbon vanilla porter (my favorite at all of the homebrewer pourings). Someone also brewed a ridiculously well done sour ale that finished my day off with homebrews.
Chris Bowen of Hammersmith Ales was also there pouring. He had a fantastic saison that was tart and dry, perfect for the fall afternoon as well as a German Kolsch and an English Brown. There were some other offerings, but nothing really great to speak of. This year, instead of a pie cooking contest, they opted for a pie eating contest. One man clearly triumphed over all and dominated his pie with such tremendous skill we can only assume he’s well on his way to being the Joey Chestnut of the Lehigh Valley. The Trouble City All Stars were playing in the courtyard for a bit later on in the afternoon as everyone was digesting beer and apple pie.
This year it seemed a little more spread out and there were more activities for kids (see: petting zoo with llamas and other animals). It was noticeable more packed this year than in the previos two and I think they’re going to need to start expanding the event. With how long the lines were and the lack of communication/organization in getting tickets, passes, and wristbands, they’re getting a little too big for their britches. I did take note, and I’m not sure if this was the case in previous years, that more restaurants are getting in on the action. This year saw chef Michael Adams taking over the Sun Inn tent (who was there last year), Yianni’s Taverna, and the Confetti Cafe all lined up selling food. The event, however, remains a staple and a symbol that the leaves will soon be turning and the weather getting cooler. Another great year at Harvest Festival has passed, with great thanks to the Downtown Bethlehem Association and the Lehigh Valley Homebrewers.