Monday, October 5, 2015

2015 Lancaster County Fall Theater Roundup: What's Onstage This Autumn

Fall is one of my favorite times to catch the latest theater action in Lancaster County. With so much
Theater seats
on deck, you have plenty of live on-stage options to choose from as you look for where to go and what to do.

Here are some highlights of what’s happening this fall and early winter:
This phenomenal live theater experience is literally down the street from the Historic Smithton Inn. EPAC is a critically-acclaimed community theater, with shows that run the gamut from classic dramas to avant garde musical comedies. Its intimate three-quarter thrust stage setting brings you close to the action and emotion. Here’s what EPAC has on deck this season:

Carrie: The Musical

October 15 - 31

Based on the 1974 Stephen King thriller and 1979 Brian DePalma film, this show tells the story of a teenage girl's struggle with controlling her supernatural powers and her anger.

December 3 - 19

Surely you know and love the 2001 DreamWorks hit, Shrek! Shrek the Musical brings the fairytale-with-a-twist ogre-and-princess love story to life on stage in this fun and endearing production.

This stunning Lancaster County theater is in downtown Lancaster city, and it’s just a half hour drive from our bed and breakfast. From favorite Broadway shows to a family series for all ages, you’ll find it all at the Fulton. Here’s what up next at this grand theater:
September 29 – October 25

“They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, They're all together ooky…” You know how it goes!

Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, and the others are back in this frightfully fun musical.

November 17 – January 3

That’s right, the story of Buddy the elf (who really isn’t an elf, as you know) comes to stage in this heart-warming musical production.

The stories of the Bible come to life in Sight & Sound’s breathtaking productions. The theater is just 20 miles from our inn, and has become a favorite destination for people of all religious backgrounds. Many shows feature live animals—kids love that! For an extra special experience, check out the "Behind the Scenes Tour" to discover how the Sight & Sound crews create their magic.


On stage now and continues until Oct. 17

There’s not much time left to catch this colorful and timeless story of jealously, forgiveness, and integrity.

November 7, 2015 – January 2, 2016

Experience the miracle of Christ’s birth in this hope-inspiring production.
A wonderful venue for enjoying theater, food, and fun. At Dutch Apple, you get dinner and a show. Or you can opt to attend only the theater performance. Here’s what’s on the schedule this fall:

Church Basement Ladies: A Mighty Fortress

September 24 – November 7

An all-new musical comedy set in 1960 with the reformation underway. 

A Christmas Story: The Musical

November 12 – December 31

Get set to enjoy this classic about Ralphie and the coveted Red Ryder BB gun.

Another dinner theater experience awaits you here. Rainbow’s Comedy playhouse is known for its hilarious productions. Get your laugh on at these upcoming shows:

Over The River And Through The Woods 

Now through - October 24

A story of four doting grandparents trying to keep their thirty-year-old grandson from moving across the country.

October 31 – December 27

Mrs. Puffin and her antics return in time for Christmas 2015.
Just 40 miles west of us on Rte. 322, you’ll find the gorgeous Hershey Theatre with its Broadway productions, concerts, and classic films.

To see their full list of events, visit their website.

American Music Theatre 
Some of the best names in music and mesmerizing original AMT shows await you there. Just 20 minutes from the Historic Smithton Inn, AMT also offers comedy and specialty performances. Here’s what’s coming up:

November 3 – December 30

AMT’s critically acclaimed Christmas Show that has become a Lancaster County tradition.

For more future shows on AMT’s schedule, see their website.

Image courtesy of Apple's Eyes Studio at

Monday, September 28, 2015

Three Lancaster County Small Towns Worth A Walk-Through

Some of the best Lancaster County has to offer can best be seen and experienced by taking a stroll.
That’s especially true of several charming small towns in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. In particular: Ephrata, Lititz, and Intercourse.

With downtown districts that have so much to do and see, ditch the car and check out these traditional towns on foot.

Nearly centrally located between Reading and Lancaster, Ephrata is easy to get to and full of character.  And our inn is just a mile from the heart of it all!

Check out live theater productions at Ephrata Performing Arts Center and the latest blockbusters at the Ephrata Main Theatre. While you’re out and about, explore the quaint thrift stores overflowing with trendy treasures and fun fashions.

The eateries in Ephrata run the spectrum of casual Italian to Vietnamese to Spanish to American fine dining. And then there’s the Black Forest Brewery and sweets shop Scratch Bakes. You’re sure to find something to please your pallet perfectly during your walk through town.

An online survey by Budget Travel named Lititz America’s Coolest Small Town in 2013, so you know you’re in for a treat. In Lititz, the architecture is breathtaking and all of the below are there for you to enjoy as you walk downtown:

·       Wilbur Chocolates
·       Brew pubs
·       Bakeries (breads, pastries, and other sweets)
·       Ice cream parlors
·       Boutiques (unique clothing, jewelry, artwork, and perfect gifts)

No stay in Lancaster County is complete without experiencing the authentic Amish heritage of Intercourse. This sampling of Pennsylvania Dutch Country is a world in and of itself. Be sure to browse the classic shops of Kitchen Kettle Village to sample jams, jellies, salsas and more. You’ll also see handcrafted furniture being made, and you can even catch a ride in an Amish buggy. And with traditional PA Dutch eateries to satisfy your appetite, you won’t leave Intercourse hungry.

Of course, all that walking can be exhausting, so book your stay with us, and we’ll make sure you get a good night’s rest and warm breakfast before you head out on your next Lancaster County adventure.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Celebrate All Things German At These Oktoberfests in Lancaster County

Drink up the true German heritage of Pennsylvania Dutch Country during your trip to Lancaster
German Beer Maidens
County this fall. Our area’s Oktoberfests are filled to the brim with music, fun, food, and some of the best brews around.

Check out the events below, and book your stay at the Historic Smithton Inn so you’ll be close to all the action.

Stoudt’s Oktoberfest and Brew Fest

September 27, October 4, 11, 17, 18, and 25
2800 North Reading Rd., Adamstown, PA

Life is good at Stoudt's Oktoberfest the last Sunday in September and every Sunday in October. This family friendly event in their Gemutlichkeit Bier Garden will let you share in German traditions and music. And you’ll also find German sausages, red cabbage, and more to satisfy your inner German. Want to know the best part? It’s only 20 minutes away from our inn!

For more information on performers and ticket prices, visit Stoudt's website.

Oktoberfest at the Strasburg Rail Road

October 3, 10, and 24 (Boarding 5:30 p.m.; Departure 6:00 p.m.)
301 Gap Road, Ronks, PA

Travel down the tracks of the Strasburg Rail Road this October to enjoy not only the gorgeous fall foliage but also locally crafted beers and traditional German treats like hand-rolled pretzels. Have a sweet tooth? Choose between German chocolate cake and apple dumplings. And, of course, there are classic German meals including pork and sauerkraut and bratwurst. Children and adults alike have plenty to look forward to at this fun-filled fall event.

Check out the Strasburg Rail Road’s website for more information and to purchase tickets in advance.

You won’t want to miss these classic October events that share some of what’s so exceptional about our German heritage. And don’t forget to make a stay at the Historic Smithton Inn part of your authentic German experience!

Image courtesy of Franky242 at

Monday, September 14, 2015

Lancaster County Backroads: The Best Way To See The Scenic Beauty of PA Dutch Country

Nothing beats the beauty of Lancaster County’s breathtaking backroads where you can savor the
Lancaster County PA Scenery
views of endless rolling hills of crops, fields of wildflowers, historic covered bridges…and perhaps you might even stop along the way for authentic homemade root beer or to pick up some fresh, homegrown produce at roadside stands.

Whether you’re hiking or biking or just passing through, our area’s backroads provide a memorable glimpse of the scenic beauty of Lancaster County.

Here are a few resources to help you plan your backroads adventure:

Backroads Through Long Ago

At, you can view a topographical map of a driving tour and hiking trail that offer ideas for recreational activities, unique shopping experiences, enjoyable eateries, and more.

Amish Country Scenic Drive

Just over three hours long, this 102-mile ride will take you into the historical heart of the county. View countless barns, homes, and fields of the Amish. Take in the sights and join others in the exploration of shops featuring handcrafted goods and wares of Lancaster County. Travel through the town of Bird In Hand and onto Intercourse, another town steeped in Pennsylvania Dutch culture.

Lancaster County Bike Club

Historic landmarks throughout the Amish Country are excellent starting points for bicyclists from all over. The Lancaster County Bike Club recommends several rides you might consider:

Explore Ephrata – The Ephrata Cloister Museum suggests four rides that cover different areas of the town, including Kitchen Kettle Village, the Strasburg Railroad, and more.

Landis Valley Farm Museum – This museum suggests five rides of rolling terrains, offering trails leading to ice cream shops, a chocolate shop, and more. Bike through covered bridges and take in the classic scenery of Landis Valley.

Lititz Spring Park – Start at Lititz Spring Park and choose from eight trails ranging from flat to very hilly terrains that provide riders with sights like a 13th Century castle, the Cornwall Furnace Museum, and Amish farmlands.

Pennsylvania Railroad Museum – Train and history lovers are sure to enjoy these eight trails that stretch all throughout the quaint are of Strasburg.

Clock and Watch Museum – This single trail just under 19.5 miles is a lovely way to experience not only the farmlands but also the historic architecture of Columbia and beautiful views of the Susquehanna River.

No matter what path you choose, book your stay at the Historic Smithton Inn today, and we’ll be happy to suggest some of our favorite historic and scenic backroads and trails to make your visit an authentic Lancaster County experience. Happy travels!

By Rebecca Gallagher

Photo courtesy of Dawn Mentzer

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Historic Smithton Inn All-Time Favorite Recipes: Mushroom Ragu Polenta

At the Historic Smithton Inn, we’ve been getting more requests for vegan breakfast options, so we’ve
been building up our repertoire of delicious, hearty recipes that fit the bill. This mushroom ragu polenta recipe works for vegetarian and vegan guests—and for those following gluten-free diets. 

Mushroom Ragu

What you’ll need:

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (or 3 to 4 shallots), finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed to a pulp with a little sea salt
  • 2 pounds mushrooms (portabella, baby bella, shitake, oyster), thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon almond flour (or other gluten free version)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry red wine (alternatively Sherry, Marsala, or Madeira)
  • 2 cups mushroom broth (from reconstituted porcinis)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

How To Make It:

1. Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in 2 cups of boiling water for 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Strain, removing as much liquid as possible. Set the mushroom broth aside. Roughly chop the porcini mushrooms.

3. Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook about 5 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.

4. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.

5. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the sliced mushrooms, a large pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Stir in the flour to combine, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute.

7. Add the dried mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, and red pepper flakes.

8. Add the wine, raise the heat to high, and cook 5 minutes, scraping the bits of mushroom and onion from the bottom of the pan.

9. Add 1 cup of mushroom stock and continue to cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, adding more broth (or water) as needed, scraping any bits that stick to the bottom.

10. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

(Adapted from Wild Greens and Sardines)


What You’ll Need:

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (regular or light)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable boullion
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herb blend
  • 1 1/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free / Organic Polenta (corn meal)

How To Make It:

1. In a medium saucepan combine water, coconut milk, olive oil, salt and herb blend. Bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat to a simmer and slowly whisk in the cornmeal.

3. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture is smooth, tender, and creamy, about 15-18 minutes.

(Adapted from Tori Avey)

I hope you’ll enjoy this mushroom polenta recipe. It’s an excellent addition to any vegan or vegetarian meal or perfect as a meal in and of itself. Give it a try!

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of winnond at