State Senator Lisa Keim, Amanda Bachand, and Barb Dion dish up some tasty apple treats at Bethel’s Harvestfest on Saturday. Julie Reiff

BETHEL — The Bethel Common was hopping on Saturday for the annual Harvestfest celebration.

“We are excited to have a beautiful clear crisp day, said Jessie Perkins, executive director of the Bethel Chamber of Commerce, who organizes the event. “We have a full slate of vendors, and great music, including the reunion of Donny and Jewel – two beloved musicians from the area who haven’t played together for a couple of years. It’s just a fun harvest-y day and such a charming event.”

The event used to be the Bethel Harvestfest and Chowder Cookoff, but Perkins explained that restaurants are having trouble staffing restaurants on a Saturday and also being at the festival.

In addition to the numerous booths of arts and crafts vendors and local nonprofit, sponsor Hancock Lumber had a pumpkin painting stand. Bennett Automotive set up a display of tractors and even had a Model T on view. Steve Stone gave chainsaw carving demonstrations by the library, and there were rug hooking and cider pressing demonstrations at the historical society. Free Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides were sponsored by the Good Food Store.

Ainsley Rosenberg-Brown, Lindsy Stephenson, and Donnie Katlin & Jewel Clark performed at the Gazebo all afternoon. Allen’s Coffee Brandy sponsored the entertainment.

Seth Ferris from MS Walker said, “Allen’s Coffee Brandy is our bread and butter here in Maine. The company has been a sponsor at the festival for several years.


“We wanted to get out and about and say hi to people again,” Ferris said. “It’s been interesting. I’ve noticed that most people here so far are not from Maine. If you’re not from Maine, you’ve never heard of Allen’s, but it’s been produced for close to 50 years, and was the number one spirit in Maine for decades. We need to work on getting a spirit tent here, but the Bethel Inn is doing a drink feature for us today.”

Sponsors also helped to judge the apple pie and apple crisp contest, and slices were then put up for sale. Jeffrey Girouard took first in the professional category, Janet Black for a non-traditional pie, and Sarah South for a traditional pie.

Peter Southam, who is married to the three-time apple pie champ, said he’s been to quite a few Harvestfests “but they have a nasty habit of getting rained out or blown out or COVID-ed out,” he said, “so we really haven’t had a lot of great ones of late but this is the best I’ve ever seen.” He added that he rarely gets to eat the pie because his wife is always giving it away to the contest. “She does make good pie,” he added.

New Resident Chuck Wilcoxen was a first-timer at the festival and found it very enjoyable. “We’ve been looking forward to it, and enjoyed walking around,” he said. “I had the hot dog deal, which was outstanding. It’s nice to see people having fun and see the children dancing to the music.”

Mike and Sharon Madore from Rumford said they’ve come for the last couple years and it’s always very nice. “We try to come every year,” Mike said. “Last year I surprised my wife. She always wanted to ride the horses and had never done it, so that’s a good memory.”

Faye Christoforo and Ben Allen moved to Bethel two years ago said, “It’s our first time, but it’s been awesome. We’re loving it.”


Chrys and Ruthie Snogren of Bethel were happy to be here for at least their fourth Harvestfest, to catch up with friends. They were impressed with the number of booths this year.

Vendors Martha Grover and Josh Rysted set up their pottery booth for the fourth or fifth year. “The turn out’s been great today,” Grover said, “bigger than last year, definitely.” They noticed a good mix of local and visiting folks and found it to be a good time of year for sales, when people are just starting to think about gifts for the holidays.

Justin Webb from Ohio and Aaron Bilsing from Vermont, stumbled across the festival after cycling the Cross NH Adventure Trail (which finishes at Davis Park).

“Bethel is a sweet little town, really nice,” Webb said. “We’re from out of town, but we dig it. This is cool. It’s what town’s should do, bring people out, gather share, and you got a beautiful day for it.”

Clearly the weather made everything about the day more enjoyable.

“You can plan everything perfectly,” said Perkins, “but it all comes down to the weather, and happily we are nailing it today.”

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