Harvest Homecoming organizers optimistic despite bridge closing - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Harvest Homecoming organizers optimistic despite bridge closing

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NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- Booths at New Albany's Harvest Homecoming opened at noon, but organizers say people started lining up at 10 a.m.

Larry Fischer, the event board chairman, says, "We had a feeling the bridge might impact us," but he says people are trying not to compete with commuters who are coming at midday to beat the traffic.

That was Jamie Hubler's plan as he drove to Louisville and back to New Albany to take his aunt to the festival. He says he had no problems driving to Louisville, but driving back around 11 a.m., he said he saw traffic backing up on the bridge.

Vendors say because of the nice weather, it looks like the Sherman Minton Bridge closure will have little effect on the festival that brings in 250,000 people. Fred King, who sells kettle corn, says, "It'll be Friday or Saturday night that will tell the difference, that will tell whether the tourists will come over from Louisville."

Fischer says, "The last economic impact study said that 23 percent were from Louisville, but I have a feeling at least 20 percent will come, three percent may not come because of the bridge."

This event really is a homecoming -- people come from all over, even Nebraska. Myra Miller is visiting from there and says she enjoys the festival because there is nothing like it in her hometown.

One of the poplar booths is the homemade fried donuts. Lloyd Smith, the donut maker, expects to make 24,000 of them this weekend. He says if the bridge closing has had any effect, it's been minimal. People are still coming to the booth, even waiting 30 or 40 minutes for the tasty treats.

Organizers are letting Louisville residents know how quickly they come to the festival during non-rush hours. Fischer says it will probably be just an extra 15 minutes as people take Interstate 65 and 265, and use the New Albany exit. The event runs through Sunday.

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