Author Archives: Sarah

Sarah

About Sarah

Sarah grew up in Philly and moved to Lancaster permanently after meeting her husband. She loves being outside, and finds joy in little wonders, taking her kids for a stroll downtown or a hike in the southern end, and is always up for trying something new. If you're familiar with Lancaster County at all, and have been to Central Market, you may run into her father-in-law, as he's the owner of Long's Horseradish!

Holiday Light Shows in Lancaster, PA

Holiday Light Displays in Lancaster County

There are so many signs of the holiday season here in Lancaster. Stores put up their holiday displays, the Mayor officially lights the tree downtown, and gingerbread and peppermint flavored goodies start appearing everywhere.

Nothing quite puts me in the mood for the season like the lights displays. Especially when holiday budgets are tight, driving around to see neighborhood lights can be a less costly tradition.

With the help of our friends over at LancasterOnline, and the local community, we’re providing a map below for you – so pile in the car, turn on some holiday tunes (or tune to the station noted for a synchronized performance), and enjoy!

If you’d like to do some activity along with your lights, you may want to check out Dutch Winter Wonderland (for the littles), Hershey Sweet Lights, Kitchen Kettle Village or Longwood Gardens (for all ages).

 

 

Lancaster County Holiday Traditions

The holiday season in Lancaster County is a joyous time of fond memories and festive traditions. If you are weary of the consumerism and crowded shopping malls, step back into a simpler time and enjoy some old-fashioned Lancaster holiday traditions, and draw the focus back to your family, faith and community. Here are ten local Lancaster County holiday traditions:

1. A very old PA Dutch Christmas Eve tradition (originating in Germany) was to hide a pickle ornament deep in the branches of the family Christmas tree. The parents hung the pickle last, after all the other ornaments were in place. In the morning, the child who found the pickle first would receive an extra gift. The first adult to find the pickle traditionally would get good luck the whole year.

2. Instead of leaving a treat for Santa on Christmas Eve, PA Dutch youngsters would leave an empty plate under their Christmas tree for the Grishkindel (Christ child) to fill with sweets for them to eat.

3. One of the first known written mentions of a Christmas tree in America is found in the 1821 diary of Matthew Zahn, who lived right here in Lancaster.

4. The Belsnickel is a traditional German character known for visiting children a few weeks before Christmas to help determine who was naughty and who was nice.

5. The Moravian Star was adopted by the Moravian Church as a symbol of the birth of Jesus, and represented the star of Bethlehem. Traditionally, the star is hung on the first Sunday of Advent and remains up until Epiphany, January 6, or the time of the coming of the Magi. You can see Moravian Stars throughout the county, but especially in the town of Lititz.

6. Early Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas traditions include dying eggs with onion skins – we now associate that practice with Easter, but it was an originally a Christmas activity. The festive eggs would then be used to decorate the tree. Another traditional holiday decoration in Lancaster is a pretzel.

7. Among the unusual items that will be dropped to ring in the New Year in various towns around Lancaster are a red rose, a shoe, and a 100 pound bologna.

8. Springerle cookies were among the traditional ornaments used to adorn PA Dutch tabletop trees. They are made plain (anise, almond or vanilla flavored) or painted with edible gold. Some are also in the form of hand painted ornaments. You can find them locally handmade, one at a time, as they have been for hundreds of years.

9. The traditional PA Dutch New Year’s Day meal is pork and sauerkraut, which is thought to bring good luck and good fortune in the coming year because, as the saying goes, “the pig roots forward while the turkey scratches backwards.”

10. The biggest Lancaster Christmas tradition comes from the influence of the Amish culture in our area. Giving back to others. The Amish share what they have with their neighbors – from helping an elderly neighbor put up their tree to volunteering in the local shelter and inviting others into their home for Christmas dinner. Afterall, that is what the true Christmas spirit is about.

Part of the joy of the season is reminiscing about what makes your family unique. Ask your parents & grandparents about their holiday customs growing up. Whether you choose to begin new traditions with us here in Lancaster County, or to continue old ones from years past, celebrate what makes you family, and enjoy this holiday season.

How do the Amish Celebrate Christmas?

Visitors are typically curious about the differences between the Amish way of living and ours – things like not using electricity or traveling by horse & buggy or scooter rather than cars. This time of year, that curiosity turns to the Christmas holidays, and wondering how the Amish celebrate Christmas. Do they give each other presents? Do they have a big holiday meal?

To help you understand how the Amish celebrate Christmas, we talked to a local culture expert, Brad Igou of the Amish Experience.

Let’s start off with the obvious one. Do the Amish celebrate Christmas?

Yes, they do, although their customs are much simpler than our “English” customs. They are oriented toward the family and the religious meaning of the holiday.

What do you mean by English customs?

“English” is the term that the Amish use for non-Amish.

Do the Amish put up a Christmas tree, or lights around the house?

There are no lavishly decorated trees or lights around in the house, and the Amish children do not visit Santa Claus to have their picture taken, or tell him their wish list. They do share the making of special Christmas cookies and candies with us though, and they might decorate with greens and candles.

Do the Amish exchange gifts?

School children often pick names and exchange small gifts, such as writing paper or needlepoint kits. Families also exchange some small gifts – and some send Christmas cards, often to their “English” friends. Christmas card making is a very popular tradition – adults & children make handmade “stamped” Christmas cards – some of them are now even sold in Amish stores.

Interesting – if we wanted to pick some up, could we find them at the Amish Experience?

Absolutely, and at the Gordonville Bookstore has an entire “hand-stamping section.”

Do they have Christmas Eve & Christmas Day church services, and sing carols or traditional hymns?

The Christmas church service may or may not be held on December 25, but both Christmas and the following day, sometimes called “second Christmas,” are holidays for the Amish. The second day is usually one to relax or visit others.

Amish children put on a Christmas program each year in their one-room schoolhouse – this is probably the only time you’ll see Amish children on a “stage.” During their Christmas program, the children sing songs, perform skits and recite poems. This is not something that visitors would get to see. Typically just family will attend, and occasionally, they’ll invite their “English” neighbors or friends to come as well.

Okay, last question – do the Amish eat a special Christmas dinner?

Christmas dinners are absolutely a big part of the holiday for the Amish. They are usually large meals, not unlike those served at weddings, and various groups besides the family will hold get-togethers, such as single women, teachers, and others of like interest. These gatherings may continue into January and February of the new year.

Any last comments or tidbits of information for us?

I think that, although we all share our own holiday traditions, what any holiday is about is enjoying cherished memories and traditions with family and friends, as well as remembering those less fortunate than ourselves.

Lancaster County Turkey Tips 2017

When thinking about the month of November, one of the first things to come to mind is Thanksgiving. From Thanksgiving, your mind will wander to Turkey. And then when thinking about Turkey, you’ll think of the Turkey Lady (at least here in Lancaster).

Lancaster Central Market is home to a number of various stand holders, and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, Market will be packed with people looking to get their hands on the freshest ingredients for their holiday feast.

There are a number of stands that I can think of that would make complete sense to stop at for your meal: Barr’s or Meck’s (depending on your preference) and Ric’s Bread or Thom’s for the bread, celery and onions for your stuffing. The Herb Shop for the various spices you need, and Wendy Jo’s for your pumpkin flavored sweets. But the one stand you just cannot miss for your Thanksgiving meal is The Turkey Lady.

We chatted briefly with The Turkey Lady herself to get some Turkey Tips for you this year – so whether you’re a local, or just passing through, stop at Lancaster Central Market and pick up some turkey sausages, or the whole turkey, and enjoy some local flavor this holiday season.

What are some of your most popular products?

We offer 20 flavors of Turkey Sausage made from boneless skinless turkey thigh meat.  For the upcoming holiday season, we will be featuring our Winter Wonder Turkey Sausage which is a mix of cranberries and apples with a hint of orange.  It works great for breakfast casseroles as well as in your favorite stuffing recipes.  Turkey Snack Sticks, which we offer in 6 different flavors and Turkey Jerky are popular items for those looking for a protein rich snack on the go.

How do people use your products?

We have a mix of ready to eat items which can be enjoyed as is and many essential items to be used as a low fat protein rich substitute for beef or pork in your favorite recipes.  Recipes are posted at our stand featuring flavors reminiscent of the current season and quick weeknight dinner ideas for those with busy schedules.

How do you cook Turkey at your house for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is an intimate traditional affair at my house.  We enjoy our turkey slow roasted with turkey sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans (cooked with smoked turkey hock) and cranberry relish.  My dad and I do the cooking as my mom and husband usually work the day of the holiday.

What tips do you have for someone making turkey the first time?

A cooking bag is a great option as this ensures a moist breast and lots of juice for gravy making – perfect for a first timer wanting to make a positive impression!

Shop Small, Shop Local – Lancaster

Lancaster runs on entrepreneurs. There’s the Amish with farms who produce our food, which gets purchased by local restaurants and made into the delicious meals that we purchase. Or the boutiques and artists who create their products entirely by hand. Even to the design & marketing businesses that could be working together with you on jobs you need to complete. All of these local businesses contribute to Lancaster’s economy.

Choosing to support your local community, the people who have chosen to open an independent business in Lancaster is helping to create the character of each of our towns. When you begin to frequent our small shops, you’ll get to know the owner, and sometimes the person who is making your goods. When you know them, you gain a new appreciation for the quality of their products, and they gain insights into your personality and style, and can give you expert recommendations on products, or create things custom for you and your family.

So get out there and invest in your community today – shop small, shop local at the businesses below and more!

For a “from my hand to yours” product, be sure to check out Lancaster’s Markets, Quilt Shops, Cafes, and Art Galleries.

In Lititz:

–  Spotted Owl – you’ll find an ever-changing array of clothing, hand-picked by Ali.
–  Olio – sample & purchase fine olive oils and balsamic vinegars, sea salts, peppercorns and rubs.
–  Zest – you’ll find gourmet food and tools for the foodie in everyone.

In Downtown Lancaster:

–  The Spice & Tea Exchange – specializing in spices, hand-mixed blends, sugars, salts and teas, as well as tea pots, mortar and pestles, salt blocks, etc.
–  Art & Glassworks – you’ll find custom made stained glass windows, jewelry, blown glass orbs, and more.
–  The Comic Store – featuring comic books, back issues, t-shirts, and more.

In Intercourse:

–  Treasure Place – you’ll find repurposed and refurbished furniture, art, and more.
–  The Jam & Relish Kitchen – watch them make your jam, and stop in to a variety of other shops at Kitchen Kettle including wine, sweets, leather and more.
–  The Old Country Store – featuring fabric, locally-made crafts, kitchen gadgets, and quilts.

Celebration of the Arts in Lancaster

From city to country, contemporary to classic, Lancaster is known for an eclectic variety of art and galleries. This month Lancaster is celebrating the arts in two big ways: Fall ArtWalk [10/6-7] and the Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Pennsylvania [10/21-26], where we will enjoy art all week long and finish out with a celebration of some of Lancaster’s locals.

ArtWalk – October 7-8, 2017

ArtWalk in Lancaster has a long history – with the first one beginning in 1965, known as Art Sunday. Today, ArtWalk is your opportunity to try something innovative – from participating in a public art piece to hearing a new style of music or watching a play, to seeing lots and lots of art.

To view a full list of the nearly 35 featured stops, including special exhibitions, meet-the-artist events, children’s activities and live demonstrations, click here.

Stops we don’t want to miss:

  • Meet the Artists [including some of our personal favorites Freiman Stoltzfus, Christiane David, and Cindy Schlosser]
  • Print Your Own Posters/Coasters at Typothecary Letterpress
  • Lancaster Dream Factory Video Project [stop in the “studio” and let them know what you want to be when you grow up in 5 seconds or less]. We can’t want to see the finished piece of Lancaster hopes and dreams!

Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Pennsylvania – October 26, 2017

This year we are honored to host the statewide awards ceremony, especially with some of our very own receiving awards: Barry Kornhauser – Artist of the Year, and Mayor Richard Gray and Gail Gray – Special Recognition for Public Leadership in the Arts.

This event has been a celebration of the arts since 1980, is free and open to the public. Click here to register for free tickets.

Lancaster has an opportunity to celebrate the arts all week long from October 21-26 showcasing our local talent in a variety of ways. Each day will be dedicated to a specific genre of art:

Saturday – MUSIC
Sunday – PARADE
Monday – DANCE / THEATER / PERFORMANCE
Tuesday – FILM / PHOTOGRAPHY / POETRY
Wednesday – MURALS / PUBLIC ART
Thursday – VISUAL / AWARDS CEREMONY (ceremony is at 7pm at the Convention Center)

To see all the details about this week-long celebration, click here.

Picking Pumpkins in Lancaster County, PA

Can you believe it is prime pumpkin picking season again?! We are loving the cooler temps and boots and scarves weather. As you drive around Lancaster, you’ve probably noticed that the roadside stands have switched over from their summer strawberries and melons to fall’s apples, pumpkins and squash. Whether you’re picking up a pumpkin at a roadside stand or headed out into the field to find the perfect one, we’re here to help.

Below is a roundup of Lancaster-area pumpkin patches, as well as some local choices for roadside stands. Please remember to call ahead if you have concerns about the weather or possible closings. We hope your fall is off to a fantastic start, and happy pumpkin patching!

Pick Your Own Pumpkins

Roadside Stands/Markets [local favs via Instagram]

  • Little produce stand opposite Hayloft Candles in Leola
  • Stoltzfus Gourd and Pumpkin Farm
  • Roadside Stand on Rothsville Road, across from 1509 – perfect pumpkins, perfect price
  • Fisher’s Festivals on Irishtown Road, right off Ronks Road – pumpkins, gourds, and mums

October in Lancaster Travel Guide: Halloween & Harvest

The days are getting shorter, the leaves are beginning to fall, and we couldn’t be more excited. We’re starting to see pumpkins and fall wreaths made of burlap pop up in our towns, and the farmers getting ready to harvest out in the fields. Our children are animatedly choosing their Halloween costumes and talking about the fall treats we’ll bake. However you plan to celebrate fall, October is the perfect month full of activities and events that you’ll enjoy whether your preference is Halloween or harvest.

Check out our October Travel Guide below:

Halloween

  1. Howl at the Moon
    Pack your blanket, hotdogs, and marshmallows for the bonfire, and learn about the wolves that live in Lititz during the Full Moon Tour at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA.
  2. Lancaster’s Haunted History 
    This is no hocus-pocus – you’ll hear authentic ghost stories told at the actual sites of the hauntings. These walking ghost tours take place nightly in October.
  3. Enjoy Spook-tacular Family Fun
    Put on your costumes, pack up the mini-van and head on over to Dutch Wonderland’s Happy Hauntings where you’ll see Duke the Dragon in his Halloween best. Don’t forget to trick-or-treat with the dinosaurs!
  4. Take an Eerie Three-Wheeled Tour
    Take a hauntingly fun tour of the back roads by scooter withStrasburg Scooter’s Spooky Scoot. Available October 13-14, 20-21, & 27-28. Rider’s tip: pack warm gloves and a scarf.
  5. Award-winning, Spine-tingling Chills
    When it comes to terrifying thrills, visit USA Today’s Best Extreme Haunted Attraction Field of Screams is the place to be. You can also visit the haunted hayride, attractions, and houses at Jason’s Woods.

Harvest

  1. Annual Harvest Breakfast
    Kick off the harvest season at Lancaster Central Market with everyone’s favorite Harvest Breakfast, featuring farm-to-table food, live entertainment, and family fun.
  2. Pick the Perfect Pumpkin
    Head to one of our many fields to pick the perfect carving pumpkin, and enjoy apple cider and hayrides. If you’re not in to carving pumpkins, perhaps you can head to an apple orchard and bring home some fresh apples to douse in caramel for the perfect fall snack.
  3. Fall ArtWalk
    Immerse yourself in Downtown Lancaster’s art scene at Fall ArtWalk. This self-guided tour takes place Saturday and Sunday, October 7-8.
  4. Head Outdoors with a drive, a Hike or Bike Ride.
    Grab your favorite pumpkin flavored hot beverage from one of our local coffee shops, and then head out to get lost on our winding backroads and experience the beauty of fall.
  5. Fall Fairs & Festivals
    Explore traditional fall on the farm with Fall Farm Days at Amish Farm & House or Harvest Days at Landis Valley Museum. Try some local brews with Stoudt’s Oktoberfest events, or if you’d rather go back in time, dress up in your best medieval garb and visit the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. And don’t miss our full list of our County Fairs and Farm Shows.

Favorite Lancaster-sourced Farm Fresh Ingredients

Three local chefs share their fall favorites, and which dishes you can find them in

We love when the seasons change in Lancaster for so many reasons – in autumn’s case, the air turns crisp, Mother Nature puts on another show of her vibrant colors, and for my fellow foodies, it allows us to eat flavors that may only come around once a year.

Everybody knows that one of the most-anticipated flavors of fall is pumpkin, but there is so much more to be found at the fall farmers market. Check out these three chef’s favorite autumn dishes, which all include locally sourced ingredients.

John J. Jeffries
Sweet Potatoes & Lamb

Eating seasonally is not the norm in today’s society, but Chef Cavanaugh works closely with local, small, family organic farmers to source produce and meats year-round for John J. Jeffries ever changing menu. For the fall, you’ll find Japanese white sweet potatoes and purple sweet potatoes on the menu. He typically purees the sweet potatoes for an accompaniment to meat, or you’ll find them used in vegetarian entrees.

Lamb is ready to come off the pasture in early fall. You can find the lamb used head-to-tail, so the cuts on the menu vary from braised lamb, lamb leg steaks, and lamb chops.

Forklift & Palate
Beets

For a meal that can go either casual or a little fancy, head to Forklift & Palate, where their fall menu includes locally sourced beets, Brussel sprouts, and winter squash. Who doesn’t love the sweet, vibrant and colorful beet root? This chef’s tip is to choose smaller bulbs, as they tend to have a richer flavor.

The seasonal dish of choice? Try the Beet Salad Appetizer.

Speckled Hen Coffee
Apples

This fall, the Speckled Hen will be featuring local apples from the Meck family with Meck’s Produce. You can find their apples in an Apple Pie Crumble (scratch made) which is delicious as is, or to add another local ingredient, can be served a’la mode with a scoop of vanilla ice cream from Lapp Valley Farms.

If you’re in the mood for something savory, you can enjoy a Harvest Turkey Sandwich, made with bacon, sharp cheddar, apple slices and a drizzle of maple syrup grilled on wheatberry bread.

Rainy day things to do in Lancaster County

Whether you come in the bright sunshine or come to a rainy Lancaster County, we’ve got tons of great things to do! Rain is a good thing for Lancaster, as it helps us to provide the freshest produce and ripest, juiciest fruit at our numerous farm markets and roadside stands.

So, if you find yourself here in Lancaster, looking for something to do on a rainy day, here are some suggestions for you:

Learn about the Amish
Lancaster County has a number of Amish homesteads, tours, and farms, where you can learn about the lifestyle of the modern Amish, see a farmhouse, and travel the backroads and country lanes where the Amish live. You can also take a buggy ride if it’s not raining too hard – you’ll be covered by the buggy, and you can experience riding through farmland the way the Amish do!

– Amish Farm and House
– Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides
– Amish Village Backroads Bus Tour
– Old Order Amish Tours
– The Amish Experience

All aboard
Head to Strasburg to learn everything you can about locomotives! From elaborate model train displays and historic exhibits to a ride on a historic railway, Strasburg’s attractions will all paint a picture of the colorful past of Pennsylvania’s railroad industry.

– The Choo Choo Barn
– Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
– National Toy Train Museum
– Strasburg Rail Road

Watch it being made, or make it yourself
Want to see how things are made in Lancaster? A rainy day is the perfect time to head indoors to see things being created from start to finish, and even create some things yourself! Twist your own pretzel at America’s oldest commercial pretzel bakery or create your own ice cream flavor in the Turkey Hill Taste Lab. For an adults-only trip, take a peek into the distilling or beer brewing process, and enjoy the delicious end product.

– Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery
– Turkey Hill Experience
– Kitchen Kettle Village
– Thistle Finch Distillery & Wacker Brewing Company
– Lancaster Brewing Company

A museum for every interest
I know what you’re thinking – I don’t want to spend a whole day in museums. You’ve obviously never been to our museums on a rainy day in Lancaster! For little ones, we have museums boasting hands-on learning, and where imaginations can soar. Lancaster is also home to tons of art museums, galleries, and specialty museums, exhibiting everything from clocks to cars.

– Lancaster Science Factory
– North Museum of Nature and Science
– Hands-on House, Children’s Museum
– National Watch and Clock Museum
– Demuth Museum
– AACA Museum

Catch a show
What better to do on a rainy evening than head to the theatre! Stages across the county are coming to life with broadway-caliber shows, concerts, stories from the bible, and so much more.  So pick a theatre, and prepare to be swept away!

– Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
– Rainbow’s Comedy Playhouse
– Fulton Theatre
– Sight & Sound Theatre
– American Music Theatre

Shopping til you drop
We’ve got tons of shopping opportunities, from antiques to artisans, farmer’s markets to furniture, and local shops to sweets & treats, as well as great outlet shopping. You’ll be sure to find whatever it is you’re looking for, or even things you’re not looking for, as souvenirs to remember your trip to Lancaster County.

– Tanger Outlets
– Ten Thousand Villages
– Antiques Capital
– Lancaster Central Market
– Green Dragon Farmers Market
– Zum Anker Alley Gallery

Bounce, Climb, Race
For the active visitor, Lancaster is home to many indoor attractions where you can get your extra energy out. Laser tag, jumping on trampolines, and rock climbing will get your heart rate up, and keep the kids entertained for hours!

– Spooky Nook Sports
– Sky Zone Trampoline Park
– Go ‘N Bananas
– Laserdome
– Rocky Springs Entertainment Center

There are tons of other things to do on a rainy day, so just check out our website for a complete list. Don’t let a little rain keep you in your hotel!

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