Ready or not, fall is just around the corner. However, that doesn’t mean outdoor fun is done. Harvest festivals are abound, and one of them is Norwood Young America’s St. John’s School’s Harvest Party.

“We have games for kids of all ages to play, hay wagon rides, bouncy houses, power bungee jump, mini golf, face painting, glitter tattoo artist, crazy hair stylist and a balloon artist for everyone to enjoy for free,” said Susan Brueggemeier, one of the chairs for the party. “We purposely have an activity for all ages at our event, to make this a full family event.”

The Harvest Party has been going on for 19 years at St. John’s, and it’s been expanding every year. Every year, in order to keep things fresh, Brueggemeier and her team rotate the activities and work to find new activities to keep up with the growing interest. In other words, whether you’ve been to St. John’s Harvest Party annually or you’ve never had the chance, there’s something new to enjoy.

Two of the new games are specifically for toddlers, giving them more opportunities to learn and play, though Brueggemeier left them as a surprise for guests to find. There are also door prizes available for guests coming in, no matter their age.

And it’s important to note that while the Harvest Party takes place on October 26, it isn’t a Halloween event. That doesn’t mean that costumes aren’t encouraged, but they also aren’t necessary.

“It’s really its own celebration of fall,” said Brueggemeier. “Costumes can be worn, but aren’t required. It is typically celebrated around Halloween, because most children have their costumes by that time.”

This year’s event is also going to be a little longer than normal, as the hours have been extended for people to enjoy things without having the need to rush. There are some goals for this year’s Party as well. Every year, the Harvest Party asks for donations for the local foodshelf. Last year, the donations totaled 489 pounds of food and $564 for the shelf to use. This year’s goal is to raise 500 pounds of food for the needy in the community.

“We believe this is a safe alternative to trick or treating, is an opportunity to give back to the local food shelf through the donations people bring, as well as an opportunity for St. John’s School to give back to our community, by hosting this event,” said Brueggemeier.

Speaking of giving back, the event is really possibly thanks to the community support St. John’s receives. According to Brueggemeier, local businesses and nonprofits help with funding activities and prizes for the Party, making this event truly a community get together.

As for her and her team’s favorite part, Brueggemeier stated that watching the community come together and be very excited about it is easily the most exciting.

“This is also an awesome opportunity for teaching our kids the importance of community support, giving back and volunteering,” she said. “This is truly a family event as all members of our families are pitching in to help.”

The Harvest Party takes place at St. John’s School in NYA from 3:30pm-6:30pm on October 26. It is a free event, but donations for the food shelf are encouraged. Non-perishables are all that’s being accepted for food, and it’s perfectly acceptable to donate cash or a check as well. If a business in the community has not donated but would like to, contact harvestpartynya@hotmail.com or 507-317-2408 to see how you can make the Party even better.

“We would like to thank the community for their continued and gracious support of this event,” said Brueggemeier. “We appreciate all the community support and therefore we provide multiple forms of advertising for all of our sponsors.”

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