There is no greater feeling than going out and enjoying music while also helping out your community. 2021’s Harvest Fest, hosted by First Ward Charities, sets out to accomplish that goal. Featuring bands such as Driftwood and Horseshoes & Hand Grenades in addition to multiple food vendors and drinks, Harvest Fest is raising funds through the music festival format.

Harvest Fest was last held in 2019, since it was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, Harvest Fest is a fully in-person event with three bands performing. The first is Driftwood, a folk and Americana band that tours nationally. Their time on the road has influenced their sound and amassed a devoted fan base. Horseshoes & Hand Grenades is another band performing, coming all the way from Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Their genre is mainly bluegrass with high-energy performances and infectious musicianship. Bug Tussle, based in Owego, New York, is the third band performing at the festival. Similar to the other bands, Bug Tussle thrives on the live music scene and has multiple albums under their belt. Harvest Fest is part of a new project called the “Play it Forward Music Series,” which is a collaboration between First Ward Charities and local bands to provide a series of fundraiser concerts.

General admission tickets to 2021 Harvest Fest cost $15 and VIP tickets are available for $45 with included alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. There is also an option to donate your desired amount to First Ward Charities, but the suggested donation amount is also $15. All proceeds for all ticketing go to a charity for the benefit of the Binghamton community.

First Ward Charities is run by Andy Kipp, owner of The Old Union Hotel in Binghamton. Kipp had a hand in planning the entire event and made the festival a community event so people can come for free if they are struggling. Kipp said the purpose of First Ward Charities is to fundraise for those in need.

“We collect money to help people that are in a bad spot because of tragedy or sickness,” Kipp said. “During [COVID-19], we Instacart-ed a bunch of groceries to people that were having trouble getting food.”

Kipp has helped the Binghamton community in other ways too. The Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) program hosts a food drive event called “Food-A-Bago,” which donates nonperishable food in Binghamton. In 2015, Kipp expanded on the event by creating the “Shopping Cart Challenge.” He filled a shopping cart full of food, donated it to CHOW’s food drive and challenged other business owners to match the donation. The challenge has since been picked up by schools, churches, sports teams, individuals and more.

The location of the festival, Otsiningo Park, built a new stage for concerts that will be utilized at Harvest Fest. The park has been hosting more concerts lately, including a summer concert series called “Broome Bands Together.” In October, the Barenaked Ladies and Martina McBride will perform at the new concert venue. Kipp said he is excited to have people come and enjoy themselves.

“Come out have a good time and help your neighbors at the same time,” Kipp said. “it’s a win-win.”

Harvest Fest will take place on Sept. 19 at Otsiningo Park on Howell Drive in Binghamton, New York from noon to 6:00 p.m. Tickets are available online at Eventbrite here.