Introducing TheBurg

Harrisburg, PA

By Karen Hendricks

Central Pennsylvania is one of the most unique media markets in the country. That’s because unlike most markets geographically focused on one city, the Central PA media market combines four cities clustered together, along with additional medium-sized outlying towns. Often called “Hilly,” for its acroynm of HLLY, the area encompasses the capital city of Harrisburg, along with Lancaster, Lebanon and York.

Each city has its own unique personality, yet together the cities of HLLY form the heart of central PA–a region where urban landscapes give way to rolling farmland, where technology and tourism merge with manufacturing and agriculture to form the top industries.

My career, geographically speaking, has come full circle. I began my work in the HLLY market by living and working in Harrisburg in 1993; a recent move back to the Harrisburg area after 22 years in the York/Adams region feels like a homecoming of sorts.

So I consider it an exciting honor to begin writing for a Harrisburg-based publication that I’ve admired for its quality of writing and journalistic integrity for a long tme, TheBurg.

I hope you enjoy reading my first two pieces for TheBurg, with links below:

Born to Run: Fred Joslyn takes his love of running around the midstate, across the world (TheBurg, August 2017)

Hoppy Trail: Best of the West Shore featured in the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail (TheBurg, July 2017)

Al’s of Hampden in Enola

 

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Susquehanna Valley Staycations

By Karen Hendricks

A “staycation” is defined as “a vacation spent at home or nearby,” according to Merriam-Webster. Here in the Susquehanna Valley of Central Pennsylvania, there are infinite possibilities for summer staycations, saving traveling time and shrinking vacation budgets, with the added benefit of seeing our hometowns in a new light. In fact, some of the state’s top tourism destinations are right under our noses.

One of the most authentic staycation experiences can be found at one of the “farm stays” within A Lancaster County Farm Stay, an association of 20 bed and breakfasts and guesthouses that welcome families with children. Not only do these accommodations provide pretty, pastoral farm settings, but they also offer behind-the-scenes tours and opportunities for couples or families to experience farm life.

I headed to Airy Hill Farm B&B to preview their rustic, back-to-basics farm charm.

“Airy Hill Farm Bed & Breakfast: Life as it should be,” reads the sign aside the winding driveway, in the midst of lush, rolling green farmland, shady clusters of trees and several babbling brooks. Situated in northern Lancaster County, just a few miles from Lebanon County, Airy Hill Farm B&B is named for its picturesque
Lancaster County backroad, Airy Hill Road, in Manheim…. click here to read the full article, Susquehanna Valley Staycations: Finding Farm Charm and More–Locally, a cover story in the June issue of Susquehanna Style.

Enjoy a few photos I snapped along the way, below! Fun fact: I covered this story in between snowstorms during the winter of 2017, attempting to make the photography look as “summery” as possible for publication in June.

Carlisle: All-American Spirit and History

Colonial-style China, featured at 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion, Carlisle

Colonial-style China, featured at 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion, Carlisle

By Karen Hendricks

As we celebrate Presidents Day, here’s a piece of Pennsylvania-themed presidential trivia:

Only one president has ever acted as commander-in-chief of troops in the field. Which president? What was the situation?

Answer: President George Washington acted as commander-in-chief of troops while staying in Carlisle, Pennsylvania for a week in 1794 when he organized federal suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. That’s because Carlisle was Washington’s choice for the location of our first arsenal and school for the U.S. Army.

These fascinating facts relate to two stories I recently covered for two regional magazines. Both stories are based in Carlisle, a quaint, charming historical town that also features a fun, hip vibe.  In 2015, Carlisle was named one of America’s Top 100 Best Small Towns in 2015 by Livability.com (Carlisle came in at #16).

feb-2017-susquehanna-style-coverAll-American Spirit: Carlisle’s 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion, published in the February 2017 issue of Susquehanna Style, is a restaurant review for popular downtown spot, 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion. It’s all very straightforward and comfortable: a simple and traditional American menu, blended with whiskey and history. Click here to read more!

Also location in Carlisle, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC) is considered the nation’s leading cover-jan-feb-2017-celebrate-gettysburgorganization dedicated to educating and preserving the legacy of Americans who have served their country as U.S. army soldiers.

The range, depth, and breadth of USAHEC is staggering: a 54-acre site housing 16 million military items (and growing), including what’s considered the world’s largest collection of Civil War photographs with a grand total of 1.7 million military photographs. USAHEC not only includes an indoor museum component, but also outdoor exhibits, and an extensive library, archives, and artifacts collection—all free and open to the public. “It’s one of the treasures of our region,” says Aaron Jumper, communications coordinator of the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau.

Read more: U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center: Telling the U.S. Army’s Story, One Soldier at a Time, published in the Jan/Feb issue of Celebrate Gettysburg magazine.

And enjoy a collection of behind-the-scene photos taken during my research and interviews for both stories! (Click on any photo to arrow through the collection.)

Related Links:

1794 The Whiskey Rebellion

U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center

Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau

Introducing the Ice Man

ernie-dimartino-img_0937

Ernie DiMartino

By Karen Hendricks

Despite the cold temperatures, a handful of outdoor winter festivals thrive, mainly due to the warm, welcoming central Pennsylvania communities in which they’re hosted. Organizers say warm community hospitality is the key to shaking off the winter blues during Chambersburg’s IceFest, January 26-29, or the Lititz Fire & Ice Festival, February 17-20. Both celebrations feature fantastic ice sculptures lining downtown districts, free or low-cost admission and a festive spirit woven throughout community-wide events.

Click here to read my latest story for Susquehanna Style magazine, Frozen Fever: Ice Festivals Bring Warmth to Winter in Central PA (January 2017).

And meet the talented man who is carving out a name for himself, “Ice Man” Ernie DiMartino:

“Our major tool is the chainsaw—modified to make it faster or more powerful, plus die grinders, disc sanders, and ice chisels,” says Ernie DiMartino, owner of DiMartino Ice, who provides the creative talents behind both festivals’ ice sculptures.

The majority of one-block sculptures are created and stored at his Pittsburgh-area facility in Jeannette, Pennsylvania. He begins carving Chambersburg’s sculptures in September.

DiMartino’s team includes about 10 sculptors including two nephews and his stepson, but whom he says are all “like family.”

Ice-carving became a part of the family-owned ice business about 25 years ago when a neighbor, trained as a chef, taught DiMartino his skills in order to diversify the business. Today, DiMartino Ice provides sculptures for 13 annual festivals concentrated in the winter months.

“There’s a greater demand for interactive carving today—for example, a snowman with a space for visitors to put their faces where the snowman’s face would be. Or Cinderella’s horse and carriage which we created last year in Chambersburg, with people able to sit in the carriage,” DiMartino says. “Sponsors love it and people love it because they post the pictures on social media and share the fun.”

DiMartino says visiting Chambersburg and Lititz every winter is like going home. “I feel and the rest of team feel a part of those communities; we are very well received; we eat together as a family with festival organizers, for example. It’s nothing we ever asked for; it just evolved. In Lititz, Dawn Rissmiller opens her home to us. In Chambersburg, Café Italiano opens the restaurant to cook breakfast for us. Some of my guys are chefs–they jump in and help cook breakfast. We return for lunch and dinner too because they’re like family.”

“I never go on vacation,” DiMartino says with a laugh. “I’m always trying to find time for vacation; I think I’d like to go to Chambersburg or Lititz in the summer.”

Ernie DiMartino

Ernie DiMartino

Ice-Cold Facts:

  • One block of sculpture ice weighs 265 pounds.
  • It takes the sculptors one hour of labor for every block of ice carved.
  • It takes four refrigerated trucks to haul the sculptures from Jeannette to each festival.
  • Largest sculpture DiMartino ever built: Chambersburg’s ice slide created from 75 blocks of ice, measuring 40 feet long.
  • Highest sculpture DiMartino ever built: An 18-foot high Eiffel Tower for First Night State College.

Links:

Culinary Travels: Christine’s Cafe, Gettysburg

Farmer's Benedict

Farmer’s Benedict: featuring house-made Bacon Jam

By Karen Hendricks

For Chef/Owner Keith Lowman of Christine’s Café, Gettysburg, life has been a journey across America. That 35-year journey is reflected in his cooking, infusing his menu with America’s favorite and iconic regional flavors.

He describes the menu at Christine’s Café as “American fusion,” bringing culinary creativity to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “American fusion is a combination or fusion of ethnicities combined into one workable dish,” Lowman explains. “Kind of like the way our country is, a melting pot…Having a sense of adventure about new flavors is what American fusion is all about.”

Learn how his journeys shaped the menu at Christine’s Cafe, Gettysburg, PA in my latest restaurant review for Celebrate Gettysburg magazine: Christine’s Cafe: A Melting Pot of American Fusion.

And enjoy a few behind-the-scenes snapshots, below. (Click on any photo to arrow through the highlights.)

Links:

Embracing “Nerd” Status

nerd-herd-9

By Karen Hendricks

The term “nerd” is thought to have evolved from the 1950  Dr. Seuss book, “If I Ran the Zoo.” Today, “Merriam-Webster” defines “nerd” as “an unstylish, socially inept person; one who is slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.”

However, a group of eight Gettysburg teenagers are not only embracing their nerd status, but also promoting it via a successful downtown shop, Nerd Herd Gifts & Games.

Click here for my latest freelance writing piece, “The Nerd Herd: Downtown Gettysburg Shop Takes Fun & Games to a New Level,” published in the Sept/Oct issue of Celebrate Gettysburg magazine. And go behind-the-scenes with photos I snapped during the writing of the story, below. What a great group of kids–check out their unique shop the next time you’re in downtown Gettysburg, PA! Continue reading

Authentic Flavors, Family, and Achieving the American Dream

By Karen Hendricks – Did you know that Mexican restaurants are the third most popular type of restaurant in the U.S.? According to figures from 2014, there are 54,000 Mexican restaurants across the country. Interestingly, a huge market share–74 percent–are independently-owned.*

One fine example can be found in Gettysburg, PA: At Tania’s Mexican Restaurant, it’s all about authentic flavors, family, and achieving the American dream.

Continue reading