Featured Story

fenz

Fine dining Downtown

To end our extraordinary day exploring Lancaster City, my husband and I headed to a really cool restaurant called Fenz. Upon entering, we were greeted by a friendly well-dressed gentleman, wearing a smile and very cool red sneakers. Right away, we knew this was this was going to be one fun evening.

A choice of seating was offered as, weather permitting, they have tables on the rooftop. We decided we’d had enough outdoors for one day and chose the elegant yet casual feeling of the second floor, which is adjacent to their hip and retro bar. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like the bar is early Jetsons (circa 1960) with all the flare of 2014. Very cool and inviting. Bartender Christine Hess made a dynamite Basil Haydens Manhattan Rocks and poured a refreshing Pinot Grigio. Cheers!

Our server Justin was fun, friendly, and very knowledgeable. He made our dining experience stellar. His service timing was “spot on.”

Because the menu featured many wonderful entrees, it was rather difficult to decide what to order. However, we both agreed that the meals we chose were delicious (and we enjoyed every bite we stole from each other’s plates). We promised to return again to try the other tempting menu items.

Whether you make the decision to belly up to the bar for a couple of well-made drinks, or do as we did, and enjoy the taste and beauty of a full meal, grab a friend or significant other and get yourselves to Fenz to experience exquisite style and taste.

Don’t forget to look for the manager with the red sneakers!

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Looking for a Bed & Breakfast?

There are many wonderful places to stay overnight in Lancaster. From hotels to farm-stays to Bed & Breakfasts, Lancaster has it all. If you’re considering a Bed & Breakfast, here are some reasons to stay at an Authentic B&B:

  • We’re an association of over 30 B&B’s and Inns. We live here and are happy to share local insights with you. We know where to find the best sweet corn, tomatoes, and whoopie pies. The Amish and local business are our neighbors and friends. If you are looking for a locally-made broom, quilt, or new kitchen table, you can bet we’ve shopped for these same purchases, so we can help you. As your hosts, we’ll greet you with a smile. And since we own our B&Bs, you can be sure we’re available if you need us. We’re always on the lookout for new places, new experiences and fun… and we do it all for you!
  • We’ll serve you a great breakfast in the morning. If you like it, chances are good that you may even get the recipe so your stomach can stay on vacation long after you’ve returned home.
  • Need a place to stay at the last minute? Want to bring the kids? Mom? Fido? Stay in a mansion? In the country? In a log home? We’ll find a B&B that’s just perfect for you. We share an 800 number, so no matter your situation, can find a room for you.
  • Do you visit Lancaster often? Take advantage of our Passport program: stay at 3 participating members of the Association and after the 4th stay, get a $50 credit off your 5th stay. Plus the Passport program includes coupons and special savings.

So, the next time you’re looking for a place in Lancaster, be sure to give us a call!

Blog post written by Jan Garrabrandt, Innkeeper at The Artist’s Inn & Gallery.

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Summer Music Series in the Park

My husband and I spent the day exploring Lancaster City, laughing, relaxing and, of course, eating. But wait – it’s summer and today is Sunday – that means the Long’s Park Summer Music Series is in full swing! Besides being free, thanks to amazing and generous sponsors and the Long’s Park Art & Craft Festival, tonight we will experience the sounds of local musicians, Slack Water News, Shrimpboat, and our favorite Lancaster band, Slimfit.

Due to the community’s continued requests for a Local Night, the Long’s Park Amphitheater Foundation and chairman thought it was high time to showcase local talent. They chose three bands with different, yet equally awesome, sounds to take the stage that night.

For three hours, we listened to great music, watched people dancing in front of the stage, and enjoyed the fun community atmosphere. The lawn was packed with blankets and chairs as young and old alike chowed down on either barbeque, ice cream, or French fries sold by the on-site vendors.

Since Long’s Park is dog-friendly (as long as your furry friend is leashed) there were many well-behaved canines, including little Bella and her “parents” Justin and Kristen. Bella, just happens to be our “grand puppy.”

It was a fun night! And, you will definitely have a great experience or your money back, guaranteed! Oh, yeah, that’s right… it’s free.

The 13-week Long’s Park Summer Music Series might be over for now, but you can visit www.LongsPark.org to see what groups you missed and even suggest bands you want to see for the summer of 2015. Be sure to “Like” the Longs Park Summer Music Series on Facebook.

Stephen and Sandy Gambone live in Lancaster. When Stephen’s not immersed in Fusion – ART, www.Etsy.com/shop/FusionARTfurniture, he enjoys being a personal fitness trainer. Sandy works for a local advertising company and loves to cook, spend time with her “grand puppy” Bella, experience art, culture, food… and, of course, wine.  

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Stephen and Sandy Gambone live in Lancaster. When Stephen’s not immersed in Fusion – ART, www.Etsy.com/shop/FusionARTfurniture, he enjoys being a personal fitness trainer. Sandy works for a local advertising company and loves to cook, spend time with her “grand puppy” Bella, experience art, culture, food… and, of course, wine.   – See more at: http://padutchcountryblog.com/city-art-food-culture/#sthash.mvmB4c9j.dpuf
tephen and Sandy Gambone live in Lancaster. When Stephen’s not immersed in Fusion – ART, www.Etsy.com/shop/FusionARTfurniture, he enjoys being a personal fitness trainer. Sandy works for a local advertising company and loves to cook, spend time with her “grand puppy” Bella, experience art, culture, food… and, of course, wine.   – See more at: http://padutchcountryblog.com/city-art-food-culture/#sthash.mvmB4c9j.dpuf
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The Amazing Annual Whoopie Pie Festival

Are you a fan of the whoopie pie? If you aren’t then you most certainly will be after you attend the annual Whoopie Pie Festival at Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn. If you’re like me and are a die-hard fan of this tasty creation, you definitely want to make plans to attend this festival.

My family and I planned to visit the 2014 Whoopie Pie Festival on Saturday, September 6, but I have to confess I was dreading the parking situation. I was so relieved to read on the festival’s website that they would be providing shuttles from several locations. We decided to catch the shuttle from the American Music Theater. The shuttle bus was air conditioned and very fancy. My kids are used to school buses, so this was a big treat for them and got our day off to a good start. The driver told me shuttles run every 20 minutes to each location to make it easy to get back to your car when you’ve finished your day.

When we arrive at the festival, my children and I couldn’t believe the sheer number of whoopie pies that were gathered in one place; everywhere you looked there were whoopies. Not knowing what else to do, we started off in the Whoopie Pie tent where over a 100 varieties of whoopies were available for purchase.

At first we played it safe by picking up the original chocolate whoopie pie with vanilla filling, then we branched out to coconut and strawberry fillings. Finally, we got brave with a vanilla cookie with sprinkles featuring cream cheese filling. My son, the most adventurous of us, got a root beer filled chocolate whoopie pie.

We wished we would have brought a cooler so we could have taken home the banana orange, marble salted caramel, chocolate chunk mint chip, and chocolate dipped whoopies… but without a cooler they’d wouldn’t have made it home without melting.

I didn’t venture into the “adults only” section of the tent, but I heard that some new special whoopie pies featured flavors like Bailey’s Irish Creme and Creme de Menthe. Bring ID if you want these extra special ones because they will card you!

We checked out the craft vendors selling everything from cards to stuffed animals. There was lots to choose from and all were friendly folks eager to help you make a selection. I would have liked tohave shopped longer, but my kids were pulling me to the Whoopie Pie Treasure Hunt.

The Treasure Hunt is a free activity where kids can hunt for up to ten mini-whoopies to take home with them, but it is the famous golden whoopie that gets them the prize. My daughter found one of the golden whoopies and she was thrilled with her prize – silly band bracelets in Amish themed shapes. There were two of each shape in the package, enough for her to share with her not-as-lucky brother which made life easier for me.

Next up we took pictures with the World’s Largest Whoopie Pie. Weighing in at 720 pounds, you’d need a lot of milk to get this one down. The cream filling would keep my sweet tooth satisfied for at least a year (OK, maybe just a month).

Next door was the Make Your Own Whoopie Pie booth. For $2 the kids were given a box with the chocolate cookies and decorating candy in it and filling was available on the decorating tables. I have to give the festival organizers bonus points here; the person working the booth asked right away if either child had a peanut allergy. My son is one of the lucky no-peanut kids, so he received an extra special box that was peanut-free. So often he is left out of food-related activities because people don’t think about food allergies, but here he was able to do the very same thing his sister did plus he got licorice which made him really happy. It is these types of things that keep me coming back to a food event year after year, the little touches that help my family have a good time even though we have some dietary limitations.

We didn’t get to see the Whoopie Yell Off, the Whoopie Pie Launch, the Whoopie Pie Eating Contest, or the live entertainment, but the kids did enjoy the bounce slide and seeing the farm animals.

When it was time to go home, we caught the shuttle bus back to our car. I was thankful the wait for our bus was less than five minutes. On a hot day even that length of time can seem forever. Despite the heat, my family enjoyed the Whoopie Pie Festival and we would visit again.

If your family would like to attend the 2015 Whoopie Pie Festival at Hershey Farm Restaurant, here are a few tips for you:

  • Use the shuttle bus service. It is so nice to have air conditioning and a chance to rest your feet and parking at the event site is limited.
  • If it is hot, bring a cooler with ice packs for your whoopie pies so you can stock up on your favorites.
  • Arrive early for the best selection. If you want some of the limited flavors like chocolate chunk cookies and cream or vanilla rootbeer, be sure to beat the crowds.
  • Bring small bills for the bounce house, decorate your own whoopie and checkers. They do not accept cards and the prices are minimal.
  • If it is a sunny day, be sure to wear sunscreen.

I’ve been to many food festivals, but this one by far is the best I’ve attended. If you want to do something unusual and tasty with your family on a nice fall day, definitely consider the Whoopie Pie Festival at Hershey Farm Restaurant. It’s a whole lot of fun.

 

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Made by hand (and passion)

Eldreth Pottery was started over 30 years ago in a dank cellar by Dave Eldreth, who at the time, was a full-time teacher trying to supplement income to support newly born twin daughters.

Without much money, he was motivated to make things work. His first potter’s wheel was an improvised conversion of a washing machine. His first pottery kiln was borrowed. He dug his own clay from a local Southern Lancaster County quarry. With many years and many fortunate twists along the way, Eldreth’s determination, ambition, and creativity drove his company’s growth.

When it was time to expand into a larger space, he went to see the local banker, who as luck would have it, just started collecting Eldreth’s pottery. The banker believed in the vision, and put money behind the ideas.

Eldreth recounted a few other serendipitous stories including the time he hired a mason to build a salt-kiln. The mason abruptly quit because he didn’t want to do that kind of work. Devastated, Eldreth thought his plans to set up a pottery factory were doomed from the start. Fortunately, his neighbor turned out to be a distinguished engineer who built the kiln, and then wouldn’t accept payment for his work other than “the first four pots that come out of the kiln.”

Now with about 35 talented artists and three locations, Eldreth Pottery is a renowned name in the pottery business showcasing creativity in salt glaze, redware, and stoneware. They’re known for many different items and varying styles sure to fit everybody’s tastes. Their most popular pottery are painted birdhouses, and their annual limited edition carved Santas.

Every piece is made by hand in Lancaster County. All of the pottery is one-of-a-kind as every single item gets hand-painted.

The showroom and factory in Oxford at 902 Hart Road is stocked to the brims with high quality ceramics. You can also get a tour of that factory generally anytime between 10:00-3:00 PM from Monday to Friday. Watch the pots being made or glazed by the studio artists. Explore the studio space, which includes old clay molds, kiln room, potter’s wheels, etc.

If you’re visiting the Oxford location in early May, don’t miss their annual Open House, which includes demonstrations, kids’ pottery wheel activities, pig roast, and more.

Eldreth Pottery also has a showroom in Strasburg at 246 N Decatur Street. If you’re looking for a good time of year to visit there, go on the second weekend of November to catch their annual Holiday Open House to see all of the new limited edition Santa creations.

Either way, seek them out. Reconnect with craft that’s locally made by hand. Eldreth’s passion is contagious, and I think you’ll find his pots as inspiring as his story.

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City art, food, and culture

We decided to enjoy a “staycation” in Downtown Lancaster from Sunday to Monday at the end of June. Since we both love art (in fact, Stephen is a local artist), we thought it would be cool to sleep in an art gallery – and we actually did. The Lancaster Arts Hotel is a hotel and an art gallery in one.

Sunday morning after breakfast, we walked to our favorite block in the City – the 300 block of Queen Street. Our first stop was Art & Glassworks. Just looking at the front of this colorful storefront is amazing. There’s art, glass globes, trinkets, jewelry, pottery, and more to discover. Wandering through this incredible display takes time. It’s like a gallery; you can’t rush through it. Before we left, we had to stop to pet the store cat, as that is a tradition, despite the fact that we are both allergic to cats. There was a “Fairy House Workshop” going on in the garden patio behind the store where, on First Fridays, you can sit and enjoy a bottle of wine (BYOB) and listen to local musicians under the stars. Tres cool!

Just across the street and under an awning made of many doors (seriously, check it out!) is Mommalicious. Alicia Byler is the owner and an artist in her own right. She’s hip, fun, and also sports the best of hairdos. Her store is filled with fun and funky stuff from yesterday – from vintage dresses and hats to deer antlers, maps, and retro toys.

Intersecting Queen Street is Walnut Street. At 24 Walnut Street you find Annex 24 which specialize in exhibiting artwork of this area’s emerging artists. During any given month, you can find 15 to 20 different artists’ work on display in their bold and edgy gallery. We just have to mention that over 45 of Stephen’s works of art were on display at the time we visited.

Later that evening we enjoyed an outdoor concert at Long’s Park. The Long’s Park Summer Music Series is every Sunday evening from June-August. After the show, we were exhausted, but we had a restful night surrounded by artists’ work on the walls of our luxurious room at the Lancaster Arts Hotel.

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Stephen and Sandy Gambone live in Lancaster. When Stephen’s not immersed in Fusion – ART, www.Etsy.com/shop/FusionARTfurniture, he enjoys being a personal fitness trainer. Sandy works for a local advertising company and loves to cook, spend time with her “grand puppy” Bella, experience art, culture, food… and, of course, wine.  

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Bikes and a day Downtown

We were up early to enjoy our complimentary continental breakfast at the Lancaster Arts Hotel. We wanted to fuel ourselves for what we had planned as our Monday outing… on bicycles. Yes, the Lancaster Arts Hotel offers guests full use of bicycles for the day. How cool is that?

We rode down streets and up alleys and discovered interesting architecture, quaint cafes, and beautiful parks. While riding, we came upon the final resting place of the very famous Lancastrian, Thaddeus Stevens. He was actually born in Vermont, but we like to think of him as “one of our own” as he was first a member of the US House of Representatives who later became a successful lawyer in Gettysburg before moving his home and practice to our fair city. This ardent supporter of African-American rights and abolitionist is buried in Shreiner Concord Cemetery, a historic landmark on Mulberry Street.

Then we made a stop at the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. Their gallery features craftsmen’s pottery, jewelry, furniture, fabrics, and so much more. We were totally enamored by the purses, necklaces, bowls, and even clothing creations of a guest Japanese craftsman, Yoko Ohbayashi, who creates washi paper crafts - all made of paper!

At this point, we had worked up an appetite, so we stopped at one of our favorite spots – Prince Street Café. Snagging a table at the front window looking out at the Fulton Theatre, we enjoyed steaming cups of coffee, a Thai chicken burrito, and a caprese sandwich on a toasted ciabatta roll. Yum! Prince Street Café is always filled with locals who know a good thing when they find it. The food, coffee, and free Wi-Fi make this choice for lunch a no-brainer.

On King Street, we discovered one of the many pianos placed around Lancaster City. These pianos are part of Music for Everyone’s “Keys for the City” Piano Tour. Twelve pianos are located around the city and are decorated by local artists and sponsored by area businesses and organizations. At any time, you can catch children or adults playing the ivory keys of these colorful instruments.

It was time to head back to the hotel, where they actually valet parked the bicycles (they really did!), to get showered and dressed for our dinner at the sensational nearby restaurant Fenz.

We are truly blessed to live so close to such a vibrant and cultured city as Lancaster. Our home is a mere four-minute drive away and we, admittedly, tend to take for granted the gem that is just down the street. It was both invigorating and educational to take the time to rediscover Lancaster City, particularly by bike. Don’t wait too long to do the same.

Stephen and Sandy Gambone live in Lancaster. When Stephen’s not immersed in Fusion – ART, www.Etsy.com/shop/FusionARTfurniture, he enjoys being a personal fitness trainer.Sandy works for a local advertising company and loves to cook, spend time with her “grand puppy” Bella, experience art, culture, food… and, of course, wine.  

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Check out this high-class restaurant

If you’re looking for a fine dining restaurant in Lancaster, look no further than Checkers Bistro. Recently, I had the pleasure of not only eating at Checkers for dinner, but also getting a tour of the new location on Harrisburg Avenue. I was impressed with the recent changes made to this Lancaster City staple.

If you haven’t heard, this February, Checkers moved from its old location where it spent 7 years delighting Lancaster with its delicious menu, to a brand new, and much larger location on Harrisburg Avenue as a part of Champion Forge (next to the Lancaster Arts Hotel). The new location is beautiful and boasts a much larger bar area and comfortable new seating in the dining area along with a location for private parties. The entire space received a complete remodel and the dining room now flows beautifully giving a feeling of grandeur and class.

If you’ve dined at Checkers Bistro in the past, you’ll still enjoy its staple menu favorites at this new location along with seasonal specials that never disappoint. One of my favorite menu items is the pasta Bolognese. The soft wide parpadelle pasta smothered in a rich meat sauce an accompanied with cheese is a dish that warms my stomach and my soul each time I visit Checkers.

Checkers Bistro has always been and continues to be a great restaurant for a date, but the new location also makes it even better for a drink with friends. Checkers has a small plates menu, a delicious drink menu, and a large bar that winds through the new space accommodating more customers and making Checkers a great place to meet up with friends any time of the day or evening.

Even though the new location boasts a larger dining room and more seats, you’ll still need a reservation if you plan on having dinner on a weekend. Be sure and check out Checkers’ new website which also allows you to make reservations online through Open Table.

If you haven’t been out to see the new Checkers Bistro yet, add it to your to-do list and don’t forget to end with dessert. It never disappoints!

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Thomas the Tank Engine Welcomes Percy!

Strasburg Rail Road is best known for its historic steam trains that leave soft puffs of smoke along the iconic Lancaster County countryside between the small towns of Strasburg and Paradise.

For parents and grandparents of Thomas fans, Strasburg Rail Road conjures up a different image – one bustling with excitement as the heritage railroad station transforms to welcome Thomas the Tank engine, star of the popular series Thomas & Friends. These visits happen three times a year – filling out a season of special events including Santa’s Paradise Express, Wine & Cheese Trains and on-board dining opportunities.

This September the excitement level is going way up as Thomas’ pal, Percy, tags along to join in on all the fun!

Percy makes his debut at Day Out with Thomas at Strasburg Rail Road September 13–21, before chugging along on his national tour. Little engineers and their families will meet Thomas, Percy and Sir Topham Hatt®, Controller of the Railway and take a 20-minute ride aboard one of Strasburg Rail Road’s larger-than-life trains pulled by Thomas himself.

Many Thomas & Friends-themed activities are included in the ticket price making this a full-day adventure. Children of all ages can enjoy arts and crafts, blocks and toy trains in the Imagination Station, storytelling and extra rides Percy and Strasburg Rail Road’s Pint-Sized Pufferbelly Train, Cranky Cars and Motorcar Train.

Tickets for Day Out with Thomas are on sale now and available by calling Ticketweb at 866-468-7630, or by visiting www.ticketweb.com/dowt or directly from Strasburg Rail Road at www.strasburgrailroad.com/train-schedule/events/day-out-with-thomas. Ticket prices are $21.00plus tax for ages 2 and up (service charges may apply).

For more information and directions, contact www.strasburgrailroad.com or 866-725-9666 and share your experience at facebook.com/StrasburgRailRoad and twitter.com/StrasburgRR

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Victoria Hill is the Social Media & Public Relations Specialist at Scheffey Integrated Marketing.

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Roadside Stands & Local Farmers

Growing up in the farm country of Lancaster County. Moving to suburban Philadelphia and New York City for 20 years. Working on Wall Street. Traveling the world as a consultant.

Moving back to Lancaster County gives one an interesting perspective. Of course, even though we lived and worked in New York City and Philadelphia, we’d make frequent trips back to Lititz where my wife and I grew up to visit family. It always felt like a step back in time – more simple, relaxed, friendlier.

I’ve crested 55 and lived here again for just over 10 years. Our youngest daughter goes off to college in a few weeks. Those 20 years out of the area were our family and career building years, not only full of excitement and adventure but sky-rocketing stress, high anxiety and a struggle to master the world. It wasn’t until I got laid off from a very good job, that we decided we wanted a simpler life and moved back to Lancaster County.

One of the things I love about Lancaster County are the roadside farm markets. They’re all over the place. I intentionally drive past my favorite stand on the way from home from my current job at Garden Spot Village. Sometime I’ll stop and simply get a homemade whoopie pie for less than a dollar. That’s right – less than a dollar! Often I’ll pick up fresh fruits or vegetables that came out of the fields surrounding the stand. It’s amazing.

Dinner last night was salad topped with shrimp so I stopped for fresh greens, peppers, carrots and broccoli to add to the shrimp in the fridge. It’s great to know that what you’re eating is organically grown, fresh and wholesome. And this particular weekend, Friday and Saturday, held a special surprise! Fresh Peach Sundaes for .99 cents. Oh yeah! Three scoops of Turkey Hill Ice Cream, topped with fresh peaches that were just washed, peeled, sliced and finished off with a swirl of whipped cream. It was heavenly. Is that crazy or what? Where else do you find fresh hand-dipped sundaes for .99 cents? Certainly not suburban Philadelphia or New York City, I can tell you that!

Having grown up in Lititz, roadside farm stands were just a common thing, something I drove past and ignored. It’s only been in the last several years that I’ve discovered how amazingly incredibly they are. Not only are the baked goods, cheeses and produce wonderfully farm fresh, the families that run them are extremely friendly and helpful. And sometimes they do crazy things like fresh peach sundaes for 99 cents.

If you live in Lancaster County or you visit regularly, do yourself a favor and add visits to local farm stands into your routine. If you’re visiting be sure to stop and check some out. You’ll be glad you did. If you’re feeling like life is too complex, full of unreasonable responsibilities and way too stressful, you might want to do what we did: take a step back in time and make Lancaster County home. For us life got a lot simpler and happier and Lancaster holds that same potential for you. And then, well, maybe a roadside farm stand might be right next door! Imagine the possibilities and adventure of a simpler life!

To read more about Garden Spot Village, go to www.gardenspotvillage.org/blog.

 

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