Hay barrels litter the grounds. A split–rail fence and cornstalks stand guard as a hayride whizzes past. It's an archetypal autumn scene—with one catch.
It's in Center City Philadelphia, at Reading Terminal Market’s annual Harvest Festival this Saturday, October 13.
Known as Philadelphia’s historic public market, Reading Terminal Market has been around since 1893, offering everything from decadent foods and fresh ingredients to kitchenware and more. The annual fall Harvest Festival is one of two Reading Terminal signature events, the other being the Ice Cream Festival that takes place in July.
Harvest Festival is a huge event that shuts down and transforms the 12th and Arch Street block into an urban farm, complete with bales of hay, corn stalks, and plenty of local, seasonal eats. Vendors set up harvest and fall–themed specials outside in addition to the wide variety of food stands that are normally found inside the market.
Sarah Levitsky, Director of Marketing and Events at Reading Terminal, explains that “there is a nice sense of community around [this event] and it is definitely one that we look forward to every year.”
The event came to be 14 years ago, when James and Vincent Iovine, owners of Iovine Brothers Produce, decided they wanted to give back to their customers by bringing something new and different to the market.
“The first year we set it up with just a few merchants and hayrides around the market and a display to take pictures,” said Vincent. From there the Harvest Festival grew tremendously. With more and more merchants participating every year, it got to a point where the market had to turn some away because there were too many people that wanted to be involved, said Vincent.
At the event you can expect a shut–down Filbert Street near 12th and Arch Streets transformed by live music, a festive beer garden, fun arts and craft projects, a scenic pumpkin patch, a classic hayride that goes around the entire market and more! All the activities are free, and food is pay as you go. The event attracts people of all ages and the Festival gets a large turnout of college students every year, said Levitsky.
As for Vincent, he'll be spending the day driving the tractor around the block, a job he has enjoyed doing for the past 14 years. The hayride is universally enjoyed, with families and college students alike participating every year.
“It’s shocking how many people love getting on that hayride,” said Vincent, “it’s just a pretty cool thing you don’t normally see in the city of Philadelphia.”
Harvest Festival at Reading Terminal Market
When: Saturday, October 13, 2018, 10 a.m.— 4 p.m.
Where: 12th and Arch Streets
Cost: Free admission. Food is pay as you go.