This weekend was full of festivity. Specifically, the Pennsylvania Flavor Fest, and Harrisburg’s Art Festival. The Flavor Fest was first. I’d seen oh, about a million ads, and decided it looked like fun. The advertising showed cooking demos, fancy food with lots of sampling, and kids making whoopie pies. Sounded good to me, and even though you had to pay to get in, I figured we’d make it up in free samples.
Right. So my first “hmmm…” moment was that we got there with no traffic jams, something we experienced at the Celtic Festival last year, which was held in the same spot. We were there right when the gates opened, and there wasn’t exactly a line to get in. The second “hmmm…” moment, occurred when we were handed our complimentary wine-tasting-glasses (emblazoned with “PA Flavor Fest 09” – something you’d love to have in your china cabinet). I’d read that there would be local wineries and breweries, so…okay, whatever. Except it turns out that the wine and the beer were the main attractions. We did go to a cooking demonstration, but it turned out to be about crabcakes. Awesome. I hate seafood. Next, please. There was some fun music, but I was the only person woo-ing in appreciation, and that made it much less exciting. I guess this was only the second year they’ve had this festival and apparently the million commercials didn’t work as well on other people as they had on us. It wasn’t crowded and people were pretty subdued.
We did do a few fun activities with Ella (I forgot my camera so we’ll see if I can figure out how to upload pictures from my phone – lame, I know). She planted a few strawberry plants that we then got to take home with us, made a whoopie pie, twisted a pretzel, and even bucked up and decided to be brave enough to ride a pony. I didn’t think the once-around-the-track was really worth $3, but the smile on her face was priceless.
Other than that, we mostly just wandered until everything started shutting down. The food was not only sparse, but unimpressive, and although I actually love a good wine-tasting, I’m not really someone who moseys up to a tasting table with my kids in tow and contemplates the bitter notes in that particular Pinot Grigio. I figured the “taste of PA” would be pretzels – turns out it was hops and fermented grapes. I don’t think we’ll go back – not really exciting as a family activity.
We set aside Monday as our day to attend Harrisburg’s Art Festival. We went last year, and since there’s no charge to attend, we were definitely going again. The irony of it all was that this festival had 10 times the amount of food, and 20 times the variety. Greek, Thai, BBQ, Cheese-steaks, Fried Everything – you name it, they had it. Including pretzels. Not only that, but they had an insane amount of vendors displaying their wares. I did pick up an adorable carved flying-pig at the Flavor Fest, and I have to admit that the Art Festival didn’t have anything similar, but they did have pretty much everything else.
The only bad thing was realizing that we couldn’t afford anything to hang in our dining room, like I had hoped. Real art costs more than $20, apparently. Oh well. It was still fun, and I did pick up two prints for the girls (pictures to follow soon) to put in their rooms. Got them from the same artist as last year’s bunny print. I’m happy that we could get something “local” but wish we could do more – I’m all for supporting starving artists, except that I have to have enough money left over to feed my family, so it doesn’t always work out.
We also experienced that PA Friendliness again – as we sat down for lunch, we got involved in pretty extensive conversations with the people who shared our table. It’s still strange to me. I expect to just smile at people and then politely ignore them – it’s what we do in Utah. Not here. People won’t let you be shy – they want to know how you are doing, where you came from, your kid’s names and ages, what you do for a living, your blood type…everything. You’d think it would make someone with social anxiety have a heart attack, but I’m finding that not only do I not mind it, I enjoy it. Friendliness. What a concept. And of course it always helps that I generally get a lot of the “your kids are so adorable” comments thrown at me. Nothing makes a mom beam more – even if it’s followed by the occasional eye roll because one of those kids is doing her fake sneeze for the 800th time. I think it’s the grin that gets them.
Next year we’ll skip the Flavor Fest and be content with tasting PA in downtown Harrisburg.