March 5, 2014 | Posted by: Kristen May
If you are a quilter, want to be a quilter, or just like quilts – make sure to plan a trip to Lancaster during AQS QuiltWeek™ being held this year from March 12-15 at the Lancaster County Convention Center in downtown Lancaster.
For several years the American Quilter’s Society (AQS) has held a convention in the Lancaster area and this year they return with four days of classes, quilt exhibits, and the always popular merchant mall filled with quilt and fiber art vendors. This is the 30th anniversary of AQS, so they are doing it up right.
As a fourth-generation quilter, I’ve visited the AQS shows many times both on my own and with my mother who taught me how to quilt. My favorite day to attend is Friday when Lancaster Central Market is open. I make sure to arrive early so I can hit the Market for a whoopie pie and a cup of coffee before crossing the street to the Convention Center for all the quilting goodness.
Classes are taught by well-respected individuals and are a great way to learn something new from those who really knows their stuff. There are classes for brand new quilters and veteran quilters alike. My first class ever was a hand-quilting class with Dierdra McElroy and it was so much fun, I barely realized I was learning!
If you aren’t a quilter or aren’t interested in classes, the show features numerous quilt collections brought together by AQS which will make you think about quilts in a whole new way and help you develop an appreciation for the immense artistry that can be showcased in quilted form. Quilts truly are more than something to throw on the bed, they are works of art and the people who create them are truly artisans.
If you are a quilter, you will find amazing show discounts on sewing machines, long-arm machines, and other tools of the trade. Everywhere you will see kits, templates, fibers, fabric, and notions that you will want to take home with you. I love being able to shop in person for the things I’ve seen in my quilt magazines or online, and there is no substitute for being able to try out a machine before you buy it. This is definitely the place to come do a test drive if you are in the market for a new machine.
While you are attending the AQS show, plan to enjoy lunch at one of the downtown Lancaster restaurants such as The Pressroom, Aussie and The Fox, Prince Street Café and others for a great selection of lunch items. The Downtown Lancaster Visitors Center is right across the street from the Convention Center and they have all the brochures and maps you will need to find someplace interesting to visit. Just ask one of their knowledgeable staff members for a suggestion.
If you’d like to visit during AQS QuiltWeek™ (and you should!) hours for the show are Wednesday through Friday from 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM and Saturday from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Single and multi-day tickets are available at the door. For full details on tickets, parking, classes and events, check out the American Quilter’s Society webpage at aqsshows.com/AQSLancaster/homefeature/lancaster-2014.Leave a Comment | Category: Events, Festivals, Shopping | Permalink
February 27, 2014 | Posted by: Kristen May
“We need a three syllable word to describe tonight” exhorted Leo DiSanto, front man for Vinegar Creek Constituency, as he unfolded a piece of paper that had been passed up to him on stage by a fan. “Happening. Hap-pen-ing. I think that works!” he said to an ecstatic hometown crowd as the band launched into another rousing roots jam.
In fact, “ a happening” perfectly describes the feel of this first annual Lancaster Roots & Blues Festival.
Where many other festivals feel very commercial, with huge sponsors, t-shirt cannons and $6 bottles of water, Lancaster Roots and Blues managed to perfectly capture the spirit of the music it was highlighting. Though the sound, lighting, and organization of the festival were world class, a homespun quality and authentic energy permeated the venues, making concert goers feel at times like bands were playing in their living rooms and at other times like they were playing in the most raucous barn party you could imagine.
There were musicians playing on bar tops, flaming trumpets, and people dancing the Lindy Hop. Above all there was an overall sense that something important was happening, something special that was bringing out otherworldly performances from the artists and leaving many of us literally exhausted from so much joyous celebration. You never felt like anyone was trying to sell you anything, and it never felt like anyone was trying to take the spotlight from the amazing performers who were giving their all. It was a festival that truly exalted live music, took care of performers and concertgoers, and got so many of the small details right – which is impressive for its first attempt.
People will remember where they were when the first Lancaster Roots & Blues Festival happened; and though it’s hard to imagine how it could get much better, it’s even harder to imagine that word won’t spread far and wide about the amazing new happening in downtown Lancaster City. I, for one, am already counting the days to the next one!
Post by Dave May. To learn more about Dave, be sure to read his profile on “The Bloggers” page.1 Comment | Category: Downtown Lancaster, Events, Festivals, Late Night, Things to Do | Permalink
February 18, 2014 | Posted by: Kristen May
About mid-January Valentine’s Day hit my radar screen. I discovered years ago that if you want a nice dinner out and overnight accommodations, you have to plan ahead because things book up quickly.
Since I started my search early, I found a restaurant that I knew my wife would love and made reservations. The next challenge was to find nearby accommodations.
I was a worldwide sales manager for many years and I’ve literally stayed in more hotels than I can remember. Consequently, I’ve come to appreciate the uniqueness, charm and hospitality of Bed & Breakfasts and boutique hotels. I checked out regional accommodations, but nothing jumped out as unique or special. I continued looking for B&Bs online but was having a hard time figuring out how far away they were, if they required 2 night minimums and whether or not they were clean, well-kept and hospitable.
When I was at the Lancaster County Visitor Center for a meeting, I decided to ask if the travel consultants could recommend a B&B. Bingo! These Lancaster County experts grabbed a 2014 Getaway Guide, pulled out the map and we took a look together. There were several B&Bs in the area, but the one closest to our restaurant was Airy View Bed & Breakfast.
I’ve stayed in B&Bs when traveling, but this was my wife’s first stay at a B&B and she was delighted. Our room was warm and very comfortable and included a Jacuzzi bath. The sitting room is large with a cozy fireplace and surrounded with windows overlooking a pond with a resident swan, Joey. The entire experience was delightful!
The past two years our Valentine’s Day had been disappointing. In fact, last year we’d decided to avoid going out all together. But this year I decided to give it one more try and with the aid of the Visitors Center staff and the hospitality of Airy View B&B, our 2014 Valentine’s Day was absolutely perfect!
This blog post was written by the Visitors Bureau’s Board Chair, Scott Miller. Scott is the Chief Marketing Officer at Garden Spot Village.6 Comments | Category: holiday, hotel | Permalink
February 4, 2014 | Posted by: Kristen May
The Red Rose City will turn blue February 21-22 when it hosts the first annual Lancaster Roots and Blues, A Festival of Music. Past and present will converge to celebrate true American music styles as nearly sixty acts perform across nine stages in five venues. Grammy winners and rising stars will appear both nights at The Lancaster County Convention Center, The Ware Center, The Chameleon Club, Tellus 360 and The Federal Taphouse. Only Lancaster could host this volume of high-caliber musicians at such choice venues within a three-block radius. There will be performances that you will be the first to see outside of YouTube or your record collection.
Does the name Chris Thomas King ring a bell? How about Tommy Johnson, guitarist for The Soggy Bottom Boys in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? Mr. King portrayed Tommy in the film and has since sold more blues records than any other artist in this century. Did you see the bio pic Ray about Ray Charles? He played Lowell Fulsom. He has won Grammys and Oscars. Would you like to meet him and hear him play live? Lake Street Dive will be releasing their first album in February. Besides playing at Lancaster Roots and Blues, they will also be appearing on The Colbert Report, Late Night with David Letterman and Mountain Stage. The buzz they’re creating has spilled onto the pages of Rolling Stone. You can catch these awesome musicians and more during Lancaster Roots and Blues.
Click here to see a complete event schedule, list of musicians, maps, directions, ticket information and hotel accommodations. To see photos of the artists or to get the official play-by-play, you can follow Lancaster Roots and Blues on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter.
The memories you build will be unique, priceless and irreplaceable. Get tickets now for the inaugural Lancaster Roots and Blues festival. You will want to say you were there at its birth!
Post by Sam Campbell: Owner, Gigspots.com and Operations Director, Lancaster Roots and BluesLeave a Comment | Category: Downtown Lancaster, Events, Late Night, Things to Do | Permalink
January 28, 2014 | Posted by: Kristen May
There is hidden treasure on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. No, it’s not a chest of gold left by buccaneers in colonial days, but rather one of Lancaster County’s best up-and-coming breweries: The Swashbuckler Brewing Company (SBC). Established 14 years ago, SBC has quickly made a name for itself in the region’s emerging beer scene with excellent craft beers that can be found in a growing number of establishments outside of its own pub. BeerAdvocate.com gave this noteworthy brewery a “91-Outstanding!” rating.
The Swashbuckler’s brewpub is a unique destination that serves up four very good traditional house beers (“Swashbuckler Gold,” “Red Sea Amber,” “Plankwalker’s IPA” and “Captain Rude’s Blackwater Stout”) as well as highly regarded seasonal brews (“Helles Bock” lager and “Scottish Terror” Scottish ale). These fine beers are paired with simple but tasty pub food at reasonable prices. You can enjoy pub faire and a pint just steps from the brew kettles where those pints were born.
Though SBC is a newer brewery, its beers have quickly been added by many other establishments in the region. My first taste of the terrific “Swashbuckler Gold” kolsch beer was from the taps at John J. Jeffries Restaurant, a fine-dining establishment adjacent to the Lancaster Arts Hotel in Lancaster City. Committed to sourcing only the finest local products, being on tap at John J. Jeffries is proof that the folks at SBC are making seriously good, widely-coveted beer that pairs with high cuisine and candlelight just as well as it does with sandwiches and fries at the brewpub.
To learn more about Dave, be sure to read his profile on “The Bloggers” page.Leave a Comment | Category: Festivals, Food, Things to Do | Permalink
January 20, 2014 | Posted by: Kristen May
Lancaster Brewing Company (LBC) stands at the heart of the recent revival of craft brewing and brewpub dining in Lancaster County. Brewing at its current location in the northeast corner of the city since 1995 and under the banner of Lancaster Brewing Company since 2001, LBC produces a wide variety of celebrated beers that honor the rich brewing tradition of Lancaster County.
Head brewer Bill Moore and his crew work hard to create consistently great beer that pairs well with the excellent food served in the pub, from the sweet and roasty Milk Stout (used in a delicious mushroom gravy that tops the brewer’s meatloaf – my favorite!) to its Celtic Rose Ale steamed PEI mussels. LBC is not afraid to venture into the strong, hoppy world of more American style ales such as its award-winning Hop Hog and new Hop Buggy, brewed with Amish grains and a healthy dose of American hops.
LBC’s restaurant, situated on the open loft-style space above the brewery floor, is a great place for a kid-friendly lunch with family (the Hop Hog spiked house-smoked pulled pork is unbelievably good!), a romantic dinner date with a loved one (try the decadent Double Chocolate Milk Stout with a dessert from the a la carte menu), or even a special group outing, which can booked through their banquet manager. If it’s just drinks and snacks you’re after, there are bar specials daily and fantastic small plate options, from delicious Asian Duck Tacos to the truly unique Reuben Egg Rolls, as well as hot, buttery soft pretzels and sweet potato fries.
All of this is situated in an actual working craft-brewery setting within a historic brick building, with copper plated tables and walls adorned with black-and-white photography depicting Lancaster City’s centuries-old brewing tradition. And if you visit during the warmer months, LBC offers a beautiful new outdoor seating area surrounded by rain gardens and raised herb and vegetable beds, which the chef harvests for special seasonal dishes.
For more information and menus, visit them at www.lancasterbrewing.com.
To learn more about Dave, be sure to read his profile on “The Bloggers” page.Leave a Comment | Category: Downtown Lancaster, Food | Permalink
January 13, 2014 | Posted by: Kristen May
No visit to Lancaster should end without the unique experience of Stoudt’s Brewing Company, Stoudt’s Black Angus Restaurant & Brew Pub and the Wonderful Good Market. One of the oldest and most distinguished craft-breweries in the region, Stoudt’s Brewing Company produces over a dozen exemplary beers from its decorated “Pils” (a true-to-form German Pilsener) to its “Old Abominable” (a heady but highly drinkable barley wine).
Stoudt’s Black Angus Restaurant & Brew Pub features superlatively good German food, from Jaegerscnitzel (a traditional German dish of fried pork cutlets over spaetzle, topped with mushroom gravy made with Stoudt’s “Fat Dog” beer) to traditional bratwurst with sauerkraut. For seafood, Stoudt’s features a raw bar with oysters and clams, along with heavenly crab cakes. The burgers – hand-formed and often fretted-over by Ed Stoudt himself – are some of the best I have ever had. Head chef Josh Hilt clearly cares about his guests, taking great care to execute every detail perfectly even on vegetarian entrees that often get overlooked in other restaurants. That said, the true stars of Stoudt’s Black Angus Restaurant are the beautiful, hand-cut and perfectly-marbled steaks. There’s not much that this writer could say except that it would be difficult to find a more spectacular steak anywhere in the region.
After lunch, take a short walk around the corner to Stoudt’s Wonderful Good Market which includes cheese caves and a bakery. Here you will find fantastic artisanal breads, soups and other baked goods lovingly made by Elizabeth Stoudt (daughter of founders Ed and Carol) and her team. My favorite is the sauerkraut rye, a delightfully hearty and intensely flavorful twist on a German classic. Pair any of their breads with any of their young-but-flavorful alpine cheeses for a delicious snack. Be sure to stroll through the enormous adjacent Stoudt’s Black Angus Antique Mall. With over 300 dealers and 70,000 square feet, their mall is the granddaddy of the antique malls for which Adamstown is now famous.
Plan your visit soon. You’ll enjoy every aspect of this unique destination.
To learn more about Dave, be sure to read his profile on “The Bloggers” page.2 Comments | Category: Food, Shopping, Things to Do | Permalink
January 2, 2014 | Posted by: Kristen May
One of the best ways to experience Lancaster County’s celebrated German heritage and world-renowned craftsmanship is a Sunday visit to Stoudt’s Brewery. Situated in lovely Adamstown – the antique capital of PA and just a short drive from Downtown Lancaster, Amish attractions, and the outlets – is a true tribute to artisanal food, beer, and German folk-art that will be a highlight of any visit to Lancaster County.
Long before it was hip to make “craft beer,” before chefs were sourcing local ingredients or making their own breads, and hobbies like home cheese-making were in fashion, Ed and Carol Stoudt had a vision to share the best of their German heritage and experience by doing just those things. Along with a dedicated staff of master craftspeople, the Stoudts set out to make food and beer that would honor the traditions of Lancaster County (once called the “Munich of the New World”) and the old world from which they came, keeping the highest standards and making beautiful, delicious things as a result. That they did this while other breweries and restaurants were producing lesser-quality products to cut costs is a testament to the deep sense of values that the Stoudt family brings to everything that they do. That they have had such success is a testament to their hard work and determination, and to the fact that good food and beer always brings people together!
Recently, I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the Stoudt’s properties and sharing a meal at Stoudt’s Black Angus Restaurant, which sits adjacent to the brewery. Between courses of delicious oysters from their raw bar, perfectly-fluffy spaetzle made in the German tradition, phenomenal burgers hand-formed by Ed Stoudt himself (on rolls made by in their own Wonderful Good bakery!), and, of course, their award winning beers, I had one of the best and most memorable meals of my life, gained new friends, and a new favorite place in the process. Tune in next week for part two of this blog to learn more about Stoudt’s Black Angus Restaurant, Brewery, Wonderful Good Market, cheese-caves, antique mall, and more!
To learn more about Dave, be sure to read his profile on “The Bloggers” page.Leave a Comment | Category: Food, Shopping, Things to Do | Permalink
December 17, 2013 | Posted by: Kristen May
Photo taken by Jeff Smoll, Jeff Smoll Photography
Yes, the Amish celebrate Christmas!
They observe Christmas as a sacred holiday with simplicity and tradition. While some are influenced by the traditions of their English friends, many do not get caught up in the modern-day commercialism as we experience it. Most don’t include Santa Claus, electric lights, flashy tinsel, fancy wrapping paper, or Christmas trees. Rather, they focus on the reason for the holiday– Jesus’ birth.
Because Christmas is so important in the Amish community, it is celebrated for two days. On December 25, they fast, meditate, and read Scripture; on December 26, or “Second Christmas,” they celebrate with family and friends with festive gatherings, great feasts, and gift-giving.
Because the Pennsylvania Amish have been greatly influenced by German Christmas traditions, they often decorate by lighting candles and hanging stars, angels, greenery, and holiday cards. Most families exchange gifts and usually pick names out of a hat so each person receives one gift each year. Gifts are not always of the old-fashioned handmade variety. Sometimes they give gifts such as Barbie dolls (dressed Amish), board games, and toy tractors. In addition, homemade cookies, candy, and stamped Christmas cards are very popular. Often Amish owned stores sell these homemade items.
At the Amish schoolhouse, a Christmas program is usually planned and is one of the most anticipated events of the year. The Amish community enjoys watching the children sing, read poems, and perform Christmas plays.
And, when it happens to snow, the children enjoy playing outside. They race down the hills on their sleds, ice skate, play ice hockey, and of course, have snowball fights and snowman building competitions.
While we, the English, enjoy our traditions at Christmas, the Amish, too, will be enjoying their holiday traditions, but always with Jesus at the center of their celebration.
To learn more about how the Amish celebrate Christmas, listen to Ada’s story.8 Comments | Category: Amish, holiday | Permalink
December 9, 2013 | Posted by: Kathleen Frankford
The first time I visited American Music Theatre (AMT), it was love at first sight. I was so impressed with the gorgeous lobby, the elegant bathrooms (yes, the bathrooms are really elegant), and the staff in tuxedos, I told myself I had to work there. Five months later, I was fortunate enough to land a position as a member of their management team.
I had the privilege of working at this world-class theater for over two years, during which time I discovered AMT is much more than just a “pretty face.” In addition to the beauty and comfort of this state-of-the-art, 1600-seat theater, the shows they produce are of unparalleled quality. Besides hosting celebrity concerts such as Frankie Valli, Vince Gill, Foreigner, and more, they also write, choreograph and produce their own Original Shows, the most popular of which is the annual Christmas Show.
The 2013 show is themed “The First Noel.” While every year the show has a different storyline, they all have several things in common: top-calibre vocalists and musicians, talented dancers, and beautiful set designs and costumes. The show features both secular and sacred music, and is ideal for guests of all ages, from families with young children to seniors.
This year’s show did not disappoint and had the perfect blend of singing, dancing, and light-hearted moments. The vocals were fantastic, as was the AMT Orchestra (Michael Lambert, the violinist, is truly amazing). The set resembled a perfect family fireside, and everything from the lobby to the theater was decked out in lively red & green seasonal decor.
AMT’s Christmas Show rivals any holiday show you’ll find in a major market. They hire outstanding talent from all of the country (sometimes all over the world), and the scenery, lighting and costumes are some of the best I’ve ever seen.
Attending this production is a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit and spend a quality afternoon or evening with your family or significant other. There are so many restaurants nearby that it’s easy to make a night of it and eat out before you attend. But just in case you don’t have time, AMT does have a fully-stocked snack bar (as well as a gift shop with a wide variety of merchandise for last-minute holiday shopping).
The 2013 Christmas Show runs through December 30, so visit www.amtshows.com for more information. But get your tickets soon, as the show sometimes sells out on weekends.Leave a Comment | Category: General info, holiday, theatre, Things to Do | Permalink