Payne-Arcade Harvest Fest • 2018

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Veronica Rademaker, 19, pictured with St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, is the ambassador for the newly-revived Harvest Festival Ambassador program. She is a graduate of Johnson High School and is currently studying at Metropolitan State University. submitted photo


Lot's to do at this year's Harvest Festival

2018 features a variety of new activities

This is the sixth year the Harvest Festival is back with a strong parade and plenty of activities — it runs Sept. 19 to 23.

Highlights for 2018 include a car show, a “Taste of Payne Avenue,” a Harvest Festival Ambassador and the parade featuring all of the East Side’s high schools. 

As many East Siders remember, the Harvest Festival and it’s parade put the East Side on the map for much of the 20th century. However, with the economic hardships felt by the Great Recession of 2008 and the loss of jobs, the parade, and the festival, stopped being held.

But in 2013, with help from the East Side Lions Club and the Payne-Arcade Business Association, the parade and festival came back, and they keep getting better and bigger each year.


Return of the ambassador

A new Harvest Festival feature this year is the return of the Harvest Festival ambassador program — 19-year-old Veronica Rademaker is representing the neighborhood. Rademaker has lived on the East Side her whole life, graduated from Johnson High School in 2017 and is starting her second year of studies at Metropolitan State University. 

She said she found out about the ambassador program through Facebook and decided to sign up because she “really enjoys living on the East Side” and wanted to represent her home. 

Rademaker said what she’s enjoyed most about the experience so far has been getting involved in the community. She said every time she goes to an event, “everyone talks to you like you’ve been best friends forever.”

“I’d say it’s a fun program and a great way to get involved in the community,” Rademaker said. She’ll be featured in the parade and is helping to spread the word about purchasing Harvest Festival buttons. 


This year’s Harvest Festival button, which can be purchased at many Payne Avenue and Arcade Street businesses, was designed by Community of Peace Academy eighth-grader Simone Hunter. The buttons help support the parade and button-holders can receive deals from Payne and Arcade businesses during the festival. submitted photo

Button program

Harvest Festival buttons can be purchased for $3 at Payne Avenue and Arcade Street businesses. From Thursday, Sept. 20, through Sunday, Sept. 23, button-wearers can get discounts at Payne and Arcade businesses and help support next year’s parade. 

This year’s button was designed by eighth-grader Simone Hunter, a student at Community of Peace Academy. She designed the button as a seventh-grader.

Each spring the East Side Lions work with East Side schools to have students design the button. Kids in each classroom vote for their favorite and send it on to the club for a final vote. 

Hunter’s design features a sunset, walking path and trees. She said her nature-filled design was inspired by painter Bob Ross, who hosted “The Joy of Painting” on public television throughout the 1980s and 1990s. 

Hunter said the sunset and its colors remind her of fall, which happens to be her favorite season. She said she is excited to have the opporunity to have her artwork featured this year. Hunter will be featured in the parade and acknowledged during the Harvest Festival Awards Dinner. 


More new things

New activities this year include a car show at the American Legion at 1129 Arcade St. on Friday, Sept. 21, from 6 to 8 p.m. Those interested in bringing a car should contact East Side Lions Vice President Rebecca Nelson at 651-442-5008. There will also be live music at the Minnesota Music Cafe, 501 Payne Ave., and at Mounds Park Sports Bar, 1067 Hudson Road. 

New on Saturday will be “Taste of Payne Avenue,” a business crawl that features discounts, deals and samples at a number of spots along Payne, from East Seventh Street all the way up to Maryland Avenue. 

Participants wearing a Harvest Festival button will get a free raffle ticket for prizes, some of which include a lawnmower or a grill from Kendall’s Ace Hardware. 

Taste of Payne Avenue will take place right after the parade through 6 p.m., and a list of participating businesses can be found at 

This year’s parade begins at noon and will feature nearly 70 floats, starting near the Arlington Hills Community Center, 1200 Payne Ave., and traveling south along Payne Avenue. 

New in this year’s parade is Johnson High School’s ROTC program, its band and football team, in addition to the returning Harding High School and Washington Tech High School ROTC. 

Darlene LaBelle, a member of the East Side Lions Club who is organizing the parade, said she sees Johnson High School’s return to the “hometown” parade as an important way to “bring people back together as a community family.”

“You bring them all together and you have one big family and change can make progress,” she said. 


Returning goodies

Most Harvest Festival activities kick off Wednesday night, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m., with the awards night at the American Legion Post 577, 1129 Arcade St. 

There, medallion hunt winners will receive their prize, the ambassador will be officially crowned, the button designer will be acknowledged and participants can enter a cake in the bundt cake competition. Tickets for the dinner can be bought ahead of time from the East Side Lions for $20 or at the door for $25. 

On Thursday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m., Brunson’s Pub, 956 Payne Ave., will host the second annual hot dog eating contest where participants can compete for the coveted Weiner Award. New this year will be a beer bust from 5 to 7 p.m. Participants can buy a wristband for $10 for unlimited beer. 

Saturday’s activities will once again kick off with a pancake breakfast and the second annual Booya-to-Go at Arlington Hills Lutheran, 1115 Greenbrier St., from 8 to 11 a.m. 

A parade after-party will take place at the American Legion from 1 to 3 p.m. In addition to the parade and Taste of Payne, the East Side YMCA, located at 875 Arcade St. will have an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Arlington Hills Community Center will host a Harvest Festival Family Festival from 1 to 4 p.m. 

East Gate Ministries will host a block party at the corner of Rose and Payne avenues from 3 to 6 p.m. and the Salvation Army will have a marketplace near its location at 1019 Payne Ave. Minnesota Music Cafe and the Mounds Park Sports Bar will have music and karaoke on Saturday evening. 

On Sunday, Sept. 23, East Siders can wrap up the weekend’s activities with sandlot baseball at the the Duluth and Case Recreation Center, 1020 Duluth St. beginning at 1 p.m. Games are organized by the East Side Optimists Club. 

For tickets, buttons, or more information about Harvest Festival events, go to For more information about Taste of Payne Avenue or the parade, go to

– Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.

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