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Midvale Journal

Harvest Days returns in full force with old favorites and new activities

Aug 30, 2021 03:18PM ● By Sarah Morton Taggart

Neighbors play tug of war at a Harvest Days block party July 27. (Sarah Morton Taggart/City Journals)

By Sarah Morton Taggart | [email protected]

2020 put Harvest Days on hiatus, but this year residents were able to gather again. 2021 marked the return of the full Midvale Harvest Days celebration, complete with a parade, bingo night, food booths, concerts and more.

“While we always cherish this annual celebration, this year is particularly pertinent by the ongoing pandemic, whose dwindling seems finally in sight," said Mayor Robert Hale. "Some things will go back to the way they were before, and some won’t. But it’s a wonderful opportunity to safely gather to celebrate what makes Midvale such a wonderful and connected community.” 

Neighborhood block parties took place July 27, Aug. 2 and 3. The block party on Millerberg Drive drew neighbors out of their homes with the sounds of a live band and the smells of hot dogs being grilled. The Unified Fire Authority parked an engine nearby for children to examine, and the firefighters joined residents in a game of tug of war. 

The Unified Police Department joined the firefighters in the fun during bingo night, which took place Aug. 5 in the new pavilion at Midvale City Park. Police Chief Randy Thomas served as the celebrity bingo caller.

The Midvale Arts Council presented pop rock cover band Exit Strategy Aug. 6. In another departure from previous years, this concert was performed on a temporary stage constructed on Main Street, rather than the park. Traffic was diverted to make way for pedestrians, and food vendors and games lined the street, creating a festival atmosphere. 

The festivities concluded Aug. 7 with the parade and music, activities and vendors at Midvale City Park. Even baby goat yoga was back. 

Some new activities included tours of the Midvale Historical Society Museum, which relocated to the community center at the park earlier this year, and disc golf clinics on the brand new disc golf course. 

To Laura Magness, chair of the Harvest Days Committee, the highlight of this year’s events was the many ways that celebrated Midvale’s diverse community. The parade included dancers, charros and representatives from the Mexican Consulate and the Wat Munisrirattanir Lao Buddhist temple. The afternoon stage performances included Ballet de Colores and 1520 Arts, a nonprofit hip hop dance group. 

Some residents questioned the wisdom of holding public events in light of the recent resurgence of COVID-19 and the Delta variant. 

“As one of the decision makers who gave the green light to all Harvest Days festivities this year, including the parade, rest assured that we have followed all CDC guidelines for over a year and a half and have allowed the science to provide a logical path to reopening the city when it was safe to do so,” said Midvale City Council member Dustin Gettel in a Facebook post. “We canceled every single Harvest Days event last year because of the pandemic, and doing so again would have been an extreme blow to the morale of our city, and quite frankly, would have required us to ignore the consensus from the medical and scientific communities that outdoor events are entirely safe to attend.”

COVID-19 accommodations included limiting the number of booth vendors, adding additional hand washing stations and signage encouraging attendees to spread out. 

“We limited our advertising to ensure the crowds weren’t huge,” Magness said. “We had a perfect turnout. Everyone was so energetic, positive and enjoyed getting together safely to celebrate our community.”

Still, challenges emerged. 

“Many of the vendors we purchased services from are not yet fully staffed,” Magness said. “And our public works team had the extra challenge of preparing for Harvest Days while cleaning up debris from the severe thunderstorm. They worked long hours and did an incredible job.”

An additional environmental factor was smoke from wildfires in California and Oregon, causing the air to be dangerous for sensitive groups. Still, the week-long celebration ended with a 20-minute fireworks show at Midvale City Park. 

“It was great to see the city return to some sense of normalcy after more than a year of canceled events due to the pandemic,” said City Council member Dustin Gettel. “The block parties, parade, concerts and fireworks were all very well attended and prove that our community was ready to get back out and enjoy the excitement and tradition of Harvest Days.”