Under the Harvest Moon brings business, visitors to Dowagiac

DOWAGIAC — Saturday, Front Street in Dowagiac was bustling with people enjoying the fall weather, patronizing local businesses and exploring downtown.

The Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce hosted its eighth annual Under the Harvest Moon festival Saturday. The event saw an open-air market, a petting zoo, antique tractor show, live music, dance performances and more. After last year’s festival was rained out, organizers said the 2018 festival was a welcome success.

Programs Director with the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce Vickie Phillipson said that Saturday brought good weather and good crowds to the festival.

“It’s a great turnout. We have a good assortment of vendors and exhibitors, and we have around 30 to 48 tractors, so we have a great turnout there, too,” she said. “We are having a lot of traffic on street in terms of visitors today, and everyone seems to be enjoying it. I’m very happy with the festival.”

More than just offering a fun fall day to visitors to the city, Phillipson said the festival boosts the economy of Dowagiac by bringing in visitors to local businesses.

“We have people here from all over southwestern Michigan,” she said. “It adds a vibrancy to our city to have so many new people here exploring our downtown.”

Local business owners agreed, saying the festival brought higher numbers of patrons to their businesses than any typical Saturday.

The Wounded Minnow hosted a craft beer and wine tasting event Saturday as part of the Under the Harvest Moon activities. Owner Kyle Belew said the event always brings in many customers, last year bringing in a couple hundred visitors.

“The festival gives a tasteful exposure to our downtown and the Wounded Minnow,” Belew said. “There’s probably not a single event the chamber puts on that we don’t participate in. … It’s good exposure for our business.”

Belew added that, as a business owner, he is proud to be in a city that hosts many events and festivals like Under the Harvest Moon.

“We love to participate and support the city and the chamber,” he said. “This is what makes small towns fun and special. I’m happy to be a part of that.”

Other business owners agreed. Julie Johnson is owner of Caruso’s Candy Kitchen on Front Street. The candy shop and restaurant hosted specials, including caramel apples, for the Under the Harvest Moon festival. With her storefront filled nearly out the door Saturday, Johnson said that participating in the festival is just good business sense.

“[The festival] brings in lots of business and reminds people that we are here,” she said. “This creates awareness and brings new people into town by giving them a reason to check out our downtown.”

With business owners and visitors alike saying they were pleased with the way Saturday’s festival turned out, Phillipson said that all the hard work putting the 2018 Under the Harvest Moon festival together was worth it.

“This is a lot of fun,” she said. “I would say it has been a success.”

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