Food Pantry brings Harvest Hoedown to town
‘A community event that happens to be a fundraiser’
By Eileen Persike
RHINELANDER – The best of the fall season will be on display at Pioneer Park this Saturday. The Rhinelander Area Food Pantry’s annual Harvest Hoedown takes place there 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 30. Previously held at the Woodpecker Inn, the move into the city was made to bring the festival to the community.
“A big piece of the decision to move to Pioneer Park was really looking at our customers, who we serve, and being in our neighborhood was really important to us,” said Courtney Smith, RAFP associate executive director. “We want it to be accessible. This is really a community event that happens to be a fundraiser.”
There will be free kids games, live music and face painting, and several pavilions selling food ranging from a smoked pork plate to hot dogs, caramel apples and cotton candy. A couple of the more popular features of the hoedown, the horse-drawn wagon ride and pumpkin patch, have moved with the fest to Pioneer Park.
“We have a great route that goes through the park,” Smith said. “We’ll have a pumpkin patch for the kids to choose a pumpkin. I think it will be great.”
In addition to basket raffles, two pairs of Packers tickets will be raffled off for the Nov. 5 game at Lambeau Field against the Rams.
The Rhinelander Woman’s Club is holding a bake sale and the Woolies will have items at a country store – everything available by donation, with all funds raised benefitting the RAFP’s services and programs.
“We’re so much more than our three-day-a-week shopping,” Smith said. “We have our shopping services, but we also have an off-site pantry in partnership with the Rhine Haus, we provide home delivery to home-bound individuals. We have a special partnership twice a month with Northwoods Transit so people have an affordable way to come get their groceries.
“We also have Hodag Kids programs,” Smith continued. “We just ended our summer program, the Hodag Food Wagon, which was an amazing success. We just are now launching our Weekend Food for Kids program and we also have the Hodag Snack Attack in our schools. So there’s a lot going on and there’s a lot of different ways to support our neighbors to make sure they’re healthy and strong and they’re getting their needs met.”
Smith said the Harvest Hoedown is a way to celebrate the community’s efforts to keep their neighbors health.
“Rather than looking at hunger and food insecurity, let’s talk about food security and what does that look like and a lot of our programs are really aimed at keeping people strong and healthy, making sure that our neighbors are doing their part to keep Rhinelander the amazing town that it is,” said Smith.
As for the pantry itself, Smith said it doesn’t provide a hand out or a hand up, but a tool.
“The pantry is a great way for people to leverage their household income,” she said. “For a household of even two, we know they can save $400 a month by coming here and that’s huge.”
Some parking will be available Saturday in the park, but attendees can also park on surrounding streets or at the Aspirus parking lot on Kabel Avenue, where a shuttle will be available to transport those who want a ride.