The Harvestival at Houghton College is “one last fall hurrah” before the start of the cold weather and the beginning of winter. Organized by Eco Reps and the Center for Sustainability, the event brings together students, staff, faculty, and community members to celebrate the fall season with local vendors, live music, student art, a coffee truck and more. The event is typically held on the quad (the large grassy center of campus), so people can stop by on their way to class. Due to a chance of rain, however, the Harvestival was held inside in the Van Dyk Lounge this year—but this didn’t mean any less people came!
The Campus Center was full of students and families walking around, looking at the tables that vendors had set up. At a table with cider donuts, people were asked to sign a pledge banner and write down how they planned to live more sustainably (for example, by turning off lights or taking a shorter shower). At another table, students from Houghton College were selling artwork that they had created. And at yet another table, local farmers were selling fresh produce.
Building an Autumn Tradition
This year was the second birthday of the annual event. It was created in 2018 by Jesse Rucquoi, the Community Engagement Coordinator with the Center for Sustainability at Houghton College. When brainstorming ideas of possible events, she wanted to create an event which would encourage people to be outdoors, and combine it with her favorite season, fall. Her hope was that the event would combine local shopping, nature art, and educational opportunities that all align with the purpose of the Center for Sustainability.
The name ‘Harvestival’ (a portmanteau of ‘harvest festival’) springs from Jesse’s love for parties and for the autumn season. She also says that since she’s been at Houghton College, she’s “gained a new appreciation for local farmers and how much work they put into producing fruits and vegetables.” The main components of the event include selling produce from local vendors, encouraging people to be outdoors, and creating a festival that is as sustainable as possible.
One of the highlights of the Harvestival this year was a coffee truck from The Perfect Blend in Cuba, NY! The woman who owns The Perfect Blend used to come to a basketball camp at Houghton College, and with her fond memories in hand, she was eager to return to campus to help with the event. In addition to a coffee truck outside of the Van Dyk Lounge, students could carve pumpkins and sign the pledge banner. People walked around to different tables, and could buy things like pottery, drawings, paintings, fresh produce, handmade jewelry, and more!
A Creative Take on Creation Care
The Harvestival will continue in the upcoming years, and while it may change slightly from year to year as others take over the organization of the event, the main aspects will remain. One of Jesse’s favorite aspects of the Harvestival is hospitality; according to Jesse, “the Center for Sustainability doesn’t just exist to do the environmental things and be the environmental voice on campus, but we’re also trying to worship God through each of our events.” Jesse explained that “we hold something really valuable in that … we believe we’re caring for God’s creation because we’re caring for God’s people.” The Harvestival both brings together those in the Houghton community and those around it, as it encourages people to engage in and better understand sustainable practices.
If you weren’t able to come this year, I hope you’ll be there next year! The hope for the Harvestival is that it will continue to grow as more members from the Houghton community and the surrounding community become involved.
Celebrating Fall in WNY
In addition to the Harvestival, Houghton College has several events that encourage the celebration of the fall season. For example, the townhouse RAs put on an event called ‘Rocktober,’ which includes live music, cider and donuts, rock painting, and more. While there are different fall-themed events, Houghton College is also surrounded by opportunities to appreciate the splendor of nature in the fall. Above the campus, there are trails that lead to an overlook point, where anyone can walk and admire the trees as they change colors.
Other fall activities are located within an hour from the campus as well, such as Pumpkinville and Letchworth Park. Students can drive to Pumpkinville, and enjoy fall foods, a corn maze, pumpkin patches, and more. Letchworth Park is a popular location as the leaves begin to change and frame the waterfalls in a colorful display. Even though winter seems to be a long season at Houghton College, the people here find ways to celebrate the beauty of change in the fall.
Anja Oberg is a senior graduating from Houghton in December 2020. She is majoring in Inclusive Childhood Education with a concentration in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). She is a part of the Houghton College Cross Country and Track and Field team, and has recently enjoyed the hobby of writing poetry.