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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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

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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:

Trail Blazing

Cumberland Valley Rail Trail / Credit: Cumberland County Visitors Bureau

Cumberland Valley Rail Trail / Credit: Cumberland County Visitors Bureau

By Karen Hendricks

The rails-to-trails movement–converting unused railroad lines into recreational trails–is “on track” with today’s environmentally-friendly, recycling movement. There are numerous rail trails located in central Pennsylvania, such as York County’s Heritage Rail Trail and Cumberland County’s Cumberland Valley Rail Trail.

In fact, Pennsylvania is one of the top states for trail mileage (1,763 miles) and number of trails (173), according to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to “transforming unused rail corridors into vibrant public places.”

While I was researching rail trails, bike paths, and bicycle-friendly communities, I met some of the kindest, most genuine people who truly care about communities and ensuring that outdoor recreation is part of their community’s mix: Continue reading

Brewing Big Business

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By Karen Hendricks

If you’re a small business owner like me, you’re in the majority. What?

That’s right, the nation’s 28 million small businesses account for 54% of all sales in the U.S. And, small businesses provide 55% of all American jobs, according to the US Small Business Administration.

It’s a great time to celebrate the collective power and the sheer vitality small businesses bring to our marketplaces, through Small Business Saturday, this Saturday, November 28, 2015. Small Business Saturday, and its growing support, has a correlation to a freelance magazine article I recently wrote:

Here in Pennsylvania, there’s a movement of small, fiercely-independent businesses that collectively are brewing big business–the craft beer industry. Continue reading