Having traveled all over the United States, on holidays like Labor Day, I like to go back home to spend it with friends, family and enjoy the Kipona Artsfest. The Artsfest is held at the capital of Pennsylvania. The city closes part of Front St. next to the Susquehanna River and sets up for a three day event. Blocks upon blocks are closed down for vendors lining the street. People from all over the state come to enjoy this spectacular holiday and I am one of them.
Saturday morning I make some coffee, plan out the weekend and walk down to the festival. Having friends in the area I am saved from the burden of finding a parking spot but there is designated parking to help you from getting discouraged. As soon as I get close I can smell aromas of food from all ethnicities. I tell myself to wait until I’ve been here a few hours before I sample the deliciousness around me. It lasts for about five minutes. Between the cheesesteak, chicken on a stick, homemade fudge and lemonade, I’m in heaven. I start with strawberry shortcake, piled with strawberries and whipped cream. Delicious! Diet? What diet? Not only are my taste buds singing praises, the music coming from strategically placed stages is a delight to hear. Groups and solo artists come to play their music; bands just starting out and hoping this is their big break to singers who are well known in the area. You can hear anything from country to modern music. After spending an hour or two listening to the music I head over to the Artsfest, which is in a separate area. The fee is small but well worth it. Over a 100 crafters will be here displaying their finest items. I have found one-of-a-kind treasures from pottery (bowls, goblets, plates, etc.), clothing and a wide variety of jewelry. The paintings and drawings are unique to each vender; from items of the Indian culture to someone who has traveled the world and is trying to sell their pictures. I have even found risqué paintings that the artist has since won awards for and sells at a significantly higher price.
There are many events planned throughout the three days. A chili cook-off is held on Saturday, fishing tournaments, bingo, the annual Native American Pow-Wow and Karate tournament. A small section of Kipona will be designated for children. They can participate in face painting or mix multi-colored sand to make designs in bottles. In the past there has been a wellness area including Zumba and Tai Chi.
Boat races take place on the river throughout the day. You can sit on the steps leading down to the river and watch ‘til your heart’s content. Or you can take a walk across the bridge to City Island. Once there you can play miniature golf while eating a snow cone. If you are traveling with children they may like the train that will give them and you a tour of City Island. There is an area for volleyball and a beach to go swimming. Small huts line one side of the island selling anything from ice cream to kites. You can sit on one of the benches next to the huts, enjoy a snack and feed the ducks that have made a home here. The Harrisburg Senators play their home games on this island; while you won’t be able to walk on their fields you can still see a glimpse of their stadium. Years ago Hollywood came here and filmed Major League II using this same field. If you do some exploring on the Island you’ll find secret passages in the trees.
As the evening winds down you can rent a horse and carriage and take a tour of the city. The bridge lights up for the night making the Artsfest feel alive. The Festival continues into the night with more live bands playing their music. The smell of kettle corn being popped throughout the day and night will linger in the air. By the end of the festival and having watched the fireworks display, I’m exhausted but feeling happy. I have eaten more than a person should. Have stared at and spent too much money on art I fell in love with. Listened to wonderful music and reminisced on the fact, summer is over. And Fall is right around the corner.