It began so long ago it just barely predates the Beatles. And Vatican II. And the Vietnam War.
Starting in 1962, the people of Manhattan have gathered every fall for their Harvest Festival, the major annual fund-raiser for Manhattan Christian High School.
After last year’s COVID-shortened festival, this regular, full-sized extravaganza featuring everything from antique tractors to Dutch Hollie Bollen will be a welcome return to whatever currently passes for normal in the Gallatin Valley.
The festival is this Saturday, Oct. 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Manhattan Christian High School.
“It’s a time when the whole community comes together to support the high school,” explained Stephanie Venhuizen, festival co-chair, along with Jodi Venema.
As to why it started, and just who began the festival in 1962, “That’s a good question. That was so long ago I bet no one remembers. But I bet it was a group of parents, just like now.”
This Saturday, “We’ve got tons of auctions. The outdoor auction with tractors and tools and lawn mowers. A silent auction. A craft room full of donations. An indoor live auction.”
And don’t forget the beloved antique tractor and classic car show. And the kids’ carnival.
The festival is run by the parents of the kids who attend MCHS.
“It’s almost a part of our tuition to volunteer so many hours,” Venhuizen joked. “We couldn’t do this without the support of the parents. I grew up at the school, and now I’m back here as a parent.”
The Harvest Festival raises about $70,000 every year, she said.
And don’t despair – the community’s favorite “chicken and noodle” dish will be served for lunch. “We can’t stop making it or we would get complaints,” she added. “It’s pretty popular. It’s just that it’s not easy to make for hundreds of people.” And if that isn’t your cup of tea, the festival also serves pulled pork and chili.
How many people usually show up for the Harvest Festival? “We’ll serve lunch to 300 or 400 people,” Venhuizen said.
How about auction highlights?
“Always donated hunting and hiking boots. Tools. Lawnmowers. Photo sessions. Handmade jewelry. A lot of our elderly ladies embroider dishcloths.”
Since this is “Little Holland,” don’t forget the Dutch goodies.
“We have lots of desserts. Pies. Cookies. Every corner you turn, more desserts,” she added. And the Dutch “donut holes,” or Ollie-Bollen, are “very, very popular.” (Ollie-bollen got its start centuries ago as a doughnut-like treat beloved by Dutch sailors. It’s also a traditional New Year’s treat.)