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About Harvest Home Fair

Harvest Home Fair History

Early in its history, the Kiwanis Club of Cheviot-Westwood was confronted with a community challenge that it accepted at the urging of its charter president.

Only a year after Kiwanis was established as the community’s newest organization the demise of the community’s oldest organization appeared inevitable. Bankrupt and with aging leadership that recoiled from the challenges of changing times, the Green Township Harvest Home Fair Association directors

voted to discontinue the annual festivals, which had been held on the last Thursday in August for 78 years, every year except 1863 when it was canceled due to rumors that the Confederate Army might cross the Ohio River and come up through Green Township.

Black and white photo of a large parade float in the 1959 Harvest Home Parade on Harrsion Avenue in front of Cheviot Elementary.

1959 Harvest Home Parade - photo courtesy of J. Klug

Enoch and Ashsah Carson had settled on 100 acres of Green Township land in 1805 with their eight children. They fenced in and farmed 20 acres and when their first harvest in 1806 was abundant out of this fertile land, they invited the other settlers to rejoice and give thanks for the harvest, and in a grove outside of their cabin they held the first of many annual “festivals.” The Green Township Agricultural Society was organized to hold the annual festival on Carson’s ranch from 1855-1859. Then the newly organized Harvest Home Fair Association of Green Towhship continued the tradition as teh Fair we know today in Cheviot beginning on Friday, August 17, 1860 in Carson’s beautiful grove and yearly after that until 1939, when the young men of the infant Kiwanis Club of Cheviot-Westwood took over the reigns for the 79th annual one day festival. The Green Township Agricultural Society held the deed for the Harvest Home Park and this ownership was transferred to the City of Cheviot with the stipulation that the City of Cheviot permit the use the Harvest Home Park for the Annual Fair.

Dr. Foster Williams, whose grandfather, Dr. Peter Williams, M.D. and father, Dr. John Williams, M.D., were presidents of the old Green Township Harvest Home Association, became the first chairman of the Kiwanis committee. He continued in that capacity for 32 years when he became Chairman Emeritus in September, 1970. John J. O’Rourke, our club’s first president, was General Manager of the first 18 festivals until Oreste Barone took over in 1958 for the next 13 years. Fos and John accepted the “lumber, the seats, ropes, flags, tables, and building” at Harvest Home park and started working on the 79th festival. Lacking operating cash, it was necessary for the Kiwanians to raise a “starter fund” to underwrite the first festival. $270.50 was subscribed by individual Kiwanians and community business establishments with the largest contribution of $25.00 from the Western Hills Publishing. With that boost, the first efforts of our young club wound up with $112.25 in the black. Some of the “Display Exhibits” the first year were Vitt and Stermer, Western Hills Press, Rebold Funeral Home and Wullenweber Motors. Gate receipts were $477. The largest expense item was advertising and printing, $149.56, by the Western Hills Press.

The first major decision under Kiwanis management in 1940 was to extend the festival to two days in an effort to provide more time for 4-H and other youth activities and a more effective means of raising funds for its youth and community program. On the recommendation of Mayor Edward C. Gingerich, Cheviot Council approved the Kiwanis request to extend the park use from one to two days. The dates were changed at that time to the Friday and Saturday after Labor Day. Even with 25 cents admission fee, the festival grew in participation, attendance, and revenue slowly but consistently until it reached a peak of net earnings of $2,388 in 1948. The first serious weather adversity came in 1950 when a deluge washed out the Friday evening and swamped the Saturday event. In desperation, the Kiwanians decided on the first-time-ever Sunday rain date but that only yielded a net profit of $296.35 for that year. With Cheviot officials and public concurrence the 92nd Annual Festival, in 1951, became the first three-day event.

In 1951, the first three day festival brought new attendance and new proceeds records. The $4,028 net profit enabled the Club to appropriate $3,000 for developing the Harvest Home Park baseball diamonds and lighted horse show arena. These were the first of many Kiwanis-funded improvements at the historic Harvest Home site. The $5,970.84 net in 1952 was the highest yield until 1961, when $6,898.00 was realized. By 1968, $19,837.00 was raised but profits waxed and waned (a loss of $3,344.75 in 1965 – our only red ink). It wasn’t until the last 26 years that the Fair has achieved its greatest potential, surpassing over $60,000 per year for Youth and Community programs. That’s when Charles W. Reusing took over as chairman and manager and tightened the Kiwanis belt on expenses and free-bees. Jack Weber, Jr., Chuck Mitchell, John Rathkamp, Tony Upton, Bill Small, and now Pastor Phil Dumke have continued the austerity program that Charlie started in 1972 after he began his 5 year chairmanship in 1971.

The Harvest Home Fair, as it is now billed, has come to be known as “the biggest little fair in Ohio,” and probably the single largest Kiwanis project in the State and one of the largest in the nation; so wrote Al Huneke before he died. Indeed, so interlaced are Cheviot-Westwood Kiwanis and the Green Township Harvest Home Fair that the Club’s history which began 61 years ago is, in large part, the Harvest Home story which began 59 years ago! Our club has always relied totally on the proceeds of the fair to support our community efforts and we’ve come a long way, baby, from a 1939 profit of $112.25 to our best net of $97,205.05 in 1995. Harvest Home Fair profits went over the one million mark in 1988 and the 1997 Fair brought the profits to $1,695,507.66

In 2010 members of the Cheviot-Westwood Kiwanis Club restarted the Harvest Home Fair Association, Inc as a 501(c)(3) non-profit to plan and operate the Annual Harvest Home Fair. This association brings together Kiwanis along with other members of the community to broaden the membership and volunteer base. Today the Harvest Home Fair Association is lead by a board of 15 members comprised of 8 Cheviot-Westwood Kiwanis members including their board and 7 community members.

The Fair's Major Community Contributions

  • Early 60’s – Kitchen and Bar remodeling, Harvest Home Park – $11,000.00

  • 1968 – Enoch W. Carson Lodge, Harvest Home Park – $15,000.00

  • 1974 – Tornado relief in Green Township, Sayler Park – $10,000.00

  • 1976 – Dr. Foster Williams Playground, Harvest Home Park – $13,335.13

  • 1977 – Concession stand and storage building, Kuliga Park – $25,000.00

  • 1978-1982 – St. Francis-St. George Hospital – $55,534.18

  • 1982-1984 – Earl Applegate Playground, Westwood School- $30,000

  • 1985 – Three shelter buildings, Harvest Home Park- $57,355.86

  • 1987 – Shelter, concession, restroom building, Gamble Nippert YMCA, $35,000

  • 1990 – Dance barn refurbished at Harvest Home Park – $35,000

  • 1992-1993 – Rehabilitation of Horse Show lights, ball field, backstops, at Harvest Home Park – $21,390

  • 1993 – Tot Lot & shelter house at Green Township Veterans Memorial Park -$45,000

  • 1994 – Breast Imaging Center at St. Francis-St. George Hospital – $27,000

  • 1996 – Paved road around perimeter of Harvest Home Park – $26,933.

  • 1997 – Remodeled restrooms in lodge for handicapped – $8,015.

  • 1998 – $65,650 for kitchen equipment at Nathaniel Greene Lodge.

  • 2001 – $33,382 Multi-Sensory room at Margaret Rost School

  • 2002 – $39,913 Refurbished Dr. Foster Williams Playground at Harvest Home Park

  • 2003 – $50,000 Purchased House for Bethany House Women’s Shelter

  • 2004 – $25,000 Shelter at Cheviot Fieldhouse

  • 2006 – $27,600 Shelter at Ryan Commons

  • 2012 – $21,000 Van for Abused Women

  • 2014 – $10,000 Mad-Cap Puppets

  • 2022 – $19,500 Harvest Home Park Lodge Renovation

  • 2023 – $20,000 Harvest Home Park - Replaced Shelter Roofs

There's much more to the Harvest Home Fair than profits & Projects

The planning and work go on for a year. When Fair time rolls around we are all one big family. It’s a good time and there’s a lot of satisfaction in putting on the Fair. Cheviot-Westwood members give 2500 to 3000 volunteer hours each year at the Fair. The Thursday evening parade is truly a community venture with 200 units, 10 high school bands, 50 floats, and 5,000 neighbors enjoying the two hour extravaganza. An average of 15-18,000 people attend the fair. 7,250 exhibitors share their talents and accomplishments, peddling their wares or entertaining with games and music.

When the Kiwanis Club took over the Festival, the 1940 theme was “Boys and Girls of the Community”. The 1959 theme was “Harvest Home Centennial”.

4-H Club Participation

The 4H Clubs have been major participants in the Fair. We have been giving a 4-H college scholarship for 38 years. Initially a $200 scholarship was awarded in 1959 – today it is $1,000. It has been given in Dr. Foster Williams’ name each year.

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