Little Italy Harvest Festival showcases local artisans


Nick Natko

Onlookers wait for the Columbus Day Parade at the Harvest Festival, which took over Little Italy Oct. 6-8.

The art galleries are filled with new, unique exhibits created by local artists and jewelers. Local musicians showcase their talent on a storefront patio. The Columbus Day parade was surrounded by restaurants serving classic Italian cuisine. These and other Harvest Festival events are surrounded by the charming, charismatic streets of Little Italy.

The Little Italy Harvest Festival, held Oct. 6-8, featured events like gallery openings, jewelry showcases and live music. This weekend, 17 galleries and shops in Little Italy, including Bolt & Spool, Pennello Gallery, Still Point Gallery and Moonstruck CLE took part in the celebrations.  Most of the gallery displays were a part of the Art Walk that ran all weekend.  The festival concluded with the Columbus Day parade on Monday.

The festival was designed to showcase the businesses in the neighborhood.

“What we’re trying to do is let them experience the restaurants, artists and galleries and give them a welcoming experience,” said Ray Kristosik, Executive Director at Little Italy Redevelopment Corporation.

Ampersand Goods Cleveland, owned by Craig McDonald and Bryan Simmons, was one of the many businesses that participated in the Harvest Festival.  The independent shop expanded their floor space last month and now occupies two rooms of the Murray Hill School house.  The store focuses on upcycled, recycled and repurposed furniture.  

“We wanted to give them a fun, friendly, hometown kind of vibe in a big city,” Simmons said. “We want to give them a unique experience.”

Ampersand Goods Cleveland displayed the artwork of Jennifer Hill, who has been featured across the nation for her hand-painted gourds. In addition, they had a space where attendees could get henna art done by Renee Farrell. Local singer-songwriter Michelle Gaw also performed Saturday, focusing on original song material. The shop also had an influx of furniture this weekend.

“I think the most important thing is to show Cleveland residents the different pockets—ethic pockets—within Cleveland,” Simmons said. “We also want to promote independent artists.  So we do local jewelers, local artists, local woodworkers. We just want to showcase the talent Cleveland has.”

Several galleries had openings or special exhibits. Pennello Gallery featured Jamie Synenburg Jewelry, live jazz music and a display of artwork by Yudit Barr, a self-taught painter from Israel who now lives in Shaker Heights. Still Point Gallery had jewelry displays by Deborah Woolfork Jewelry and Red I Jewelry by Susan Scaparotti, both out of Cleveland, on Saturday.  

Kristosik said, “We love bringing people together and bringing people down to the area that may not come on a regular basis so they can experience the neighborhood.”