Another Harvestfest is over and here I sit on a Saturday evening stuffed to the gills from eating sausage subs, baked beans, oxen sandwiches (that tasted a lot like roast beef), home cooked pies, ice cream, and freshly popped kettle corn.
One year they ran out of sausage sandwiches at which time I was actually upset because those sausages were the best I ever had. At least this is where I sat in 2002. The beauty of Harvestfest had nothing to do with the food or the crafts even though I miss them. It had everything to do with the people.
The population at the Harvestfest was filled with people I knew, I thought I knew, and that I had no idea who they were. The primary bond between them was they were all enjoying a time in a place they called home. Many images come to mind.
I watched lovely young ladies in remarkably beautiful costumes dance to what I think was Irish music, I observed beautiful women in colonial garb show off their crafts inside an historic church I assumed had always been there.
York Village was filled with costumed young men and women demonstrating we all had a heritage we should be proud of. I especially liked the man who sat by the Emerson Wilcox House caning chairs. I never talked to him and to this day I’m sorry for this fact.
Another thing I noticed about what used to be Harvestfest was there were few uniformed policemen wandering throughout the crowd. Since I’ve lived in my town for the past three decades I know they were there. Like myself they were enjoying the crowd, the crafts, and the food. But, unlike myself they were also looking throughout the crowds making sure all of their neighbors were safe. They are our heroes and every now and then we should remind ourselves to tell them of this fact.
Walking in front of Jefford’s Tavern I used to watch another scene I’ve watched since the first Harvestfest many years ago. The first Harvestfest consisted of a few tables in front of the Congregational Church. I smile when I realize how our town has grown.
The scene I am talking about is Jake Weare riding his horse cart filled with young people enjoying the fact that they are experiencing something our forefathers considered to be normal. Jake never waved or acknowledged anyone and this is fine with me. He has passed the test of time and I have yet to do the same. At least that is what I used to think.
York’s Harvestfest has always demonstrated what is best about York. It’s obvious the people of our town make it beautiful. But, this is how it used to be. I just left Harvestfest 2015, and miss the Harvestfests of our past.
The venue is now at York Beach and the white covered tables surrounding The Congregational Church filled with simple and beautiful items are now replaced by multiple tables filled mostly with silver jewlery, various types of clothing one could find at any WalMart, and other trinkets found in most fairs across New England.
Gone are the costumes, the smell of baked beans being cooked deep in the ground, crafts that must have been handed down throughout generations of families, and the smell of fresh baked cakes, candies, and everything that makes one feel warm.
I’m sorry to say these scents were replaced by tables of large stainless steel warmers that were run by local organizations and had long lines before them waiting their turn to eat something that had little odor. In fact, the only scent that came from the filled little league ball park was that of very old french fries.
The food tables were all lined at the end of the ball field. There was a tent set up for people to both eat and listen to a band that had little to do with the heritage of York, or for that matter, any heritage at all with the exception of “The Eagles”.
Walking toward Yorks Wild Kingdom other tents were set up to sell everything from replacement bathrooms to more silver trinkets. This Harvestfest came with rides from a Ferris Wheel to a Carousal. But, these were always there during the summer months. They had nothing to do with our heritage.
This year’s Harvestfest was no longer a Festival of a Harvast. It was more of a carnival that takes place throughout our summer months. I couldn’t find the sausage sandwiches and to be honest after viewing what our Harvestfest has become I simply didn’t look for one.
There are no longer sausage sandwiches by Jim Fabiano
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine
(He still loves sausage sandwiches)
You can e-mail jim at: firstname.lastname@example.org