With Harvest Moon event cancelled, downtown Farmington pivots to recognizing its many volunteers

Craft beer and wine. Live music and dancing. Food trucks and artisans.

The Harvest Moon Celebration is one of downtown Farmington’s flagship events. In a typical year, the weekend-long festival is guaranteed to draw thousands of visitors to Sundquist Pavilion at Riley Park, a crowd that is sure to spill out into the city streets and patronize the shops, bars, and restaurants nearby.

But this isn’t a typical year. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizers to begrudgingly cancel this year’s Harvest Moon Celebration.

For the type of revelry that the Harvest Moon Celebration will bring, there was just no way to responsibly make it happen this year.

"It became apparent that the closer we got to it that it just wasn’t meant to be. We couldn’t make it work," says Kate Knight, executive director of the Farmington Downtown Development Authority.

"The Harvest Moon Celebration is especially personal to Farmington residents. It’s beloved, a signal that families are going back to school and that fall is here."

Yet rather than bemoan the event’s cancellation, Knight and the DDA have instead decided to use this gap in their fall programming to shine a light on the many volunteers that help make this event and other downtown events happen in the first place.

More than 150 volunteers help make Harvest Moon a reality each year, for example.

Harvest Moon volunteer Chris BarrTo acknowledge those volunteers, downtown Farmington has begun the 21 Days of Volunteer Appreciation campaign. They’ve enlisted the help of local photographer Jaki LeMense of Charisma Photography to take portraits of the many volunteers that help run the events in downtown Farmington.

Information about the volunteers and their portraits will be shared across various social media platforms throughout the duration of the campaign.

"It’s sad to think about cancelling Harvest Moon and maybe a little bittersweet to roll out this campaign but this is a tribute to those that have helped us in the past and into the future," Knight says.

Thought the event itself has been cancelled, downtown Farmington will still be bedecked in Harvest Moon cornstalks and lights. They are currently registering volunteers online for help decorating downtown on Monday, Sept. 21.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.