Monday, August 25, 2014

Long Live Your Experience at the 34th Annual Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

From August 2 through October 26, 2014, step back in time to the year 1525 at this year’s Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. Throughout the 35-acre shire at Mount Hope Estate, you’ll find jousting knights, a human chess match, swashbuckling pirates, jugglers, minstrels, and royal performers among the many acts and attractions.

Every year, the PA Renaissance Faire offers a progressive plot that traverses the grounds as the day unfolds. And what a story they have in store for guests this year! The Faire also features themed weekends that deliver a fresh and fun experience for repeat guests.

Huzzah to the Cast of Characters!

I can tell you there’s no such thing as a dull moment at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. Prepare to indulge your eyes, ears, and funny bone in a variety of entertainment choices. The shire is well-supplied with merrymakers, magicians, musicians, stunt performers, and more who put on nearly 90 shows daily.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry.
Prepare to give your taste buds a treat as you explore the plethora of Renaissance-inspired food vendors throughout your day. Smoked turkey leg, anyone? How about a Scotch egg? And there’s lots more, including dishes of a more familiar nature for those less adventurous.

While at the Faire, you might also partake in Mount Hope Estate’s own wines and ales. What better way to toast the queen?

Lasting Reminders
Before you leave the shire, I recommend you make some time to browse the merchant’s wares for the perfect souvenir. You’ll be amazed at the array of jewelry, crafts, d├ęcor, and clothes made by exceptional artisans.

Never been to the Faire?
The Historic Smithton is an easy half-hour drive from Mount Hope Estate. With years of suggesting the Faire to our guests, we’ll be happy to share more about it when you stay with us. You can also visit the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire website for dates, times, ticket information, map, 2014 program, and other details.

I hope you’ll get thee out for some frolicking at this year’s Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire!

By Rebecca Gallagher

All images used in this post belong to and are used with permission from the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Exceptional Theater in the Spotlight this Fall in Lancaster County

As summer winds down and autumn is no longer a distant reality, why not start planning your Lancaster County theatre “must see” list? Our favorite performance venues have a diverse and delectable line up of shows on deck.

Here are some highlights of what’s happening this 2014 Lancaster County Fall Theatre Season:

Ephrata Performing Arts Center / Sharadin Bigler Theatre – Not only does EPAC put on exceptional productions, it’s also ultra-convenient from the Historic Smithton Inn. Literally, it’s just down the street from us! EPAC is a critically-acclaimed community theater, offering everything from classics to avant garde shows. I think you'll enjoy the more intimate stage arrangement, as well.

Death of a Salesman 
Arthur Miller’s classic American tale
September 4 - 20

The captivating Broadway musical brought to life right here in Ephrata
October 16 – November 1

The Fulton Theatre with its stunning architecture and history delivers an unforgettable theater experience. The Fulton is located in downtown Lancaster and is just a half hour drive from our inn. You’ll find an array of productions from favorite Broadway shows to fun musicals for the whole family.

Lend me a Tenor 
Hilarity at its best in this beloved musical
October 7 - 26

Sight & Sound Theatre presents breathtaking productions that bring the stories of the Bible to life. The theater is easily accessible to our guests; it’s just 20 miles from our inn. Sight & Sound has become a favorite destination for people of all religious backgrounds. Nearly all of their shows feature live animals, so children stay engaged and entertained! For an extra special experience, check out the "Behind the Scenes Tour" to discover how the Sight & Sound crews create their magic.

The greatest epic tale from the Old Testament on stage
March 8, 2014 – February 7, 2015

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre – Theater, food, and fun all rolled into one, Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre serves up entertaining musicals accompanied by a delightful meal. Who doesn’t love dinner and a show? Or you can opt to attend only the theater performance.

Tony Award winning musical set in the era of change that was the 1950’s.
August 14 – September 20

Crazy For You 
An extravagant high-energy musical with some of Gershwin’s classics
September 26 – November 8

Rainbow Dinner Theatre – Offering still more theater, food and fun, Rainbow Dinner Theater is known for "all comedy...all the time" - and their delicious dinners of course.

Drinking Habits (a nun’s story)
August 16 - October 25

Hershey Theatre - Just 40 miles west on Rte. 322, you’ll find the Hershey Theatre. This gorgeous venue offers a wide variety of entertainment including Broadway performances, concerts, and even classic films.

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

American Music Theatre – A plethora of live musical performances awaits you at AMT! And it’s all just 20 minutes from the Historic Smithton Inn. AMT’s season also offers comedy and specialty performances. Love music? They’ve got it all: Rock, Country, Classical, Big Band, and more. You’ll be impressed by their lineup of featured stars on tour. Be sure to check out their own original shows, too.

Here’s a sampling of what’s on their schedule this fall:

Music of the Night: The Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber (an AMT original)
Through October 11

Bill Cosby 
September 7

September 19

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo 
October 6

Engelbert Humperdinck
October 10

And there’s a lot more where that came from! For more shows at AMT, see their website.

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Friday, July 25, 2014

Top Ten List of Favorite Things about Lancaster County in the Fall

Although summer is in full swing right now, this is also a wonderful time to think ahead and
start planning a visit to Lancaster County this fall. Autumn in Lancaster has so much to offer.
Image courtesy of num_skyman /

Here’s my top ten list (in no particular order because they’re all fantastic) of my fall favorites in Lancaster County:

1. The Weather
Fall has a special place in my heart because the temperatures are mild (not too hot, not too cold), and we generally don’t get as much rain as in other seasons. Lancaster fall weather accommodates all sorts of outdoor activities like biking, hiking, exploring museum grounds, and sightseeing.

2. Harvest Time
When you visit Lancaster in the fall, you have an opportunity to watch Amish farmers harvesting their crops. It’s quite a sight to see the process done the old school way!

3. Apples
Fall is when Lancaster County apples are at their peak. You can visit local orchards to pick your own apples or find fresh locally grown apples (and apple butter and apple dumplings) at farmers markets and roadside stands.  

4. Festivals & Fairs
Fun and incredible food await you at the many festivals and fairs throughout Lancaster County in autumn. In downtown Ephrata, we’ve got the Ephrata Fair on Sept. 23 – 27. Did you know it’s the largest street fair in Pennsylvania? And don’t miss the Bridge Bust (Oct. 4) in Columbia, located on the Rt. 462 Veterans Memorial Bridge between Columbia and Wrightsville.  Check out the PA Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau website for more fairs and festivals. 

5. Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire
I know, I just mentioned fairs, but this one is so big it’s deserving of its own independent mention. Spend your day amongst knights in shining armor, queens, kings, wenches, mud beggars, minstrels, fire eaters, jousters, and more as you step back in time on the grounds of Mt. Hope Estate and Winery. There’s food  (much of it reminiscent of the Renaissance period), vendors with renaissance-inspired wares, and lots of entertainment options throughout the shire. AND you can enjoy Mt. Hope’s own wines and Swashbuckler brews at the pubs and porthouses on the grounds. 

6. Foliage
Breathtaking. That’s the best word I can find to describe the fall foliage in Lancaster County. When the leaves begin to change here, don’t forget your camera as you walk, bike, or hike the scenic trails in our area. Plan to get out and stretch your legs! I recommend checking out the new Northwest Lancaster County River Trail, which stretches approximately 14 miles to connect 4 historic river towns and villages along the Susquehanna River.

7. Tours, Wine Tasting, and Events at Vineyards
The weather in fall is sublime for touring, tasting, and taking in entertainment at the many vineyards of our area. Among my faves are TheVineyard at Grandview, Waltz Vineyards, and Nissley Vineyards

8. GREAT Beer Fests
Lancaster County is becoming well known for the array of amazing craft brews hailing from our local breweries. Both the Lancaster Craft Beer Fest (Sept. 6) and the Lititz Craft Beer Fest (September 28) will give you an opportunity to get a taste of what all the buzz is about! 

9. Theater
Our local theaters always have something special in store as their fall seasons come center stage. Sharadin Bigler Theater at Ephrata Performing Arts Center is only about a 3-minute drive from the Historic Smithton Inn. Then there’s the Fulton Theatre in downtown Lancaster. Sight & Sound Theatres, Rainbow Dinner Theatre, and Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre. Dramas, musicals, comedies…whatever your preference, you’ll enjoy the caliber of performances by the talent here.  ‎ 

10. Special Events at Museums
There’s no better time than fall to explore what’s happening at our local museums. Don’t miss the Artisan's Faire at the Ephrata Cloister (Sept. 20), Harvest Daysat Landis Valley Museum (Oct. 11), Steampunk Unlimited at the StrasburgRailroad (Sept. 24 – 26), and Snitz Fest at Hans Herr House (Oct. 4). 

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point. As you can see, there’s so much to do and see in Lancaster in the fall. Don’t wait to start planning your autumn visit agenda!

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of num_skyman /

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Historic Smithton Inn All-time Favorite Recipes – Zucchini Corn Cakes

At the Historic Smithton Inn, we’re happy to prepare meals that accommodate guests' special dietary needs.

Zucchini in basket
These Zucchini Corn Cakes have been a big hit with our guests who request food that’s vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or lactose-free. We prepare them almost entirely from ingredients picked from our own garden. Even if you don’t have any special dietary requirements, you’ll find this summer dish absolutely delicious!

Zucchini Corn Cakes Recipe (serves 4)

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn (I prefer the small, white corn)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
  • 1 cup pancake mix (regular OR gluten free!)
  • 1 Tbsp Milk (or lactose free milk)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Vegetable oil or non-stick spray for cooking

And for the topping:

  • Sour cream
  • 1 cup mixed color tomatoes (cherry, grape, yellow & orange - quartered)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

How to make it:
1. In large bowl, stir together zucchini, corn, onion, egg, pancake mix, milk, salt and pepper.

2. Grease griddle or skillet with oil, or use nonstick griddle; heat over medium heat (350°F).

3. For each corn cake, pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Cook until golden brown on both sides.

4. Combine tomatoes, basil & olive oil.

5. Serve corn cakes topped with sour cream and tomatoes. Garnish with basil.

Pretty simple, right? You’ll definitely score points with your friends and family if you treat them to this simple, tasty recipe this summer.

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of dan /

Monday, July 7, 2014

Old is the new “New”: Get Hip and Go Antiques Shopping in Lancaster County

One of the many attractive features of Lancaster County is its plethora of antiques stores. Shopping for antiques is hot and high on the lists of both locals' and visitors' favorite things to do around here. From small mom& pop shops to large complexes, you’ll find an abundance of places throughout our area to find treasures from days gone by. Sundays around here are the most popular day to go antiquing, but some of the shops are open other days of the week as well.

At the inn, we’re especially fortunate to be in such close proximity to some of the best antiques venues.
Adamstown, known as the Antiques Capital, USA, lays just 9 miles away from us. While driving north from Ephrata on Rt. 272, you’ll start to see antique shop after antique shop along the road within minutes.

All of them offer something unique, and here are a few you might want to keep your eyes open for:

272 Antiques Mall - 1300 N. Reading Rd, Stevens, PA; Open daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Over 145 booths and showcases of antiques and collectibles.

Antiques Showcase & German Trading Post - 2152 North Reading Rd, Denver, PA; Open daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
300 showcases and 35 booths with antiques, collectibles, Amish goods, and more by dealers from North American and Western Europe.

Morphy Auctions & Adamstown Antique Gallery - 2000 North Reading Road , Denver, PA; Open daily from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Featuring high-end antiques.

Oley Valley Architectural Antiques - 2453 N. Reading Rd  Adamstown, PA; Open Thursday - Monday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Featuring antique carved furniture, pieces of architectural antiques, and stained glass windows and doors.

Renningers Antiques Market – Rt. 272, Adamstown, PA; Open every Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
With 375 dealers indoors and up to 300 outdoors.

Stoudts Black Angus Antiques Mall – 2800 N. Reading Rd Adamstown, PA; Open Sundays 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. year round.
The largest antique mall (under roof) with over 500 dealers. And mark your calendar for the Antiques Extravaganza on Sept. 27 and 28, 2014

That's just a sampling! For comprehensive lists of antique shops, visit the following websites:

Antiques Capital, USA

Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau

I can’t wait to hear about your antiques shopping – or browsing – excursion! Enjoy!

By Rebecca Gallagher

Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Weekends Heat Up with Arts and Crafts Festivals in Lancaster County

Late summer and early fall bring an abundance of arts & crafts festivals to Lancaster County. So if you’re looking to treat yourself or buy a unique gift for someone else, you won’t want to miss the treasures - and the fun - only festival shopping can put at your fingertips. You’ll find artisans of all varieties as you explore the arts and crafts shows in our area.

Ready. Set. Put these Lancaster County arts and crafts festivals on your calendar now!

37th Annual Lititz Rotary Craft Show - Saturday, August 9, 2014. 8 am – 4 pm. Rain or Shine.
Location: Lititz Springs Park, Main St. and Broad St. Lititz PA 17543.

This event draws people from near and far. With approximately 700 booths with arts, crafts and food, expect to enjoy a full day there. You’ll be in awe of the breadth of it! Bonus: It's just 15 – 20 minutes away from the Historic Smithton Inn!

40th Annual Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show - Sat. August 16 from 9 am - 6 pm and Sun. August 17, from 9 am – 5 pm. Rain or Shine. Admission fees apply.

Enjoy the works of approximately 260 artists chosen through juried competition. The show is held under the oaks of the Chautauqua section of Mount Gretna between Route 117 and Pennsylvania Avenue. It draws almost 20,000 art show patrons! If you’ve never been to the charming town of Mt. Gretna, make plans to visit this show. And don’t leave without visiting the Jigger Shop for some unforgettable ice cream!

The 36th Annual Long's Park Art & Crafts Festival -  Labor Day Weekend Friday Aug. 29 through Monday, August 31 - September 1, 2013. 10 am – 6 pm. Fri. & Sat, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sun. Admission fees apply.

Hailed as one of America’s top 50 fine art and craft shows, this event offers three days of breathtaking creativity. Located in beautiful Long’s Park, just outside of historic downtown Lancaster, you’ll find over 200 top artists and craftspeople from all over the United States. From our inn, you can be there after just a short half-hour drive.

41st Restaurant Fair and Arts & Crafts Festival - Sat. September 6, 2013 from 9 am – 3 pm. Downtown Square, East and West Main Streets, and North and South State Streets in Ephrata

The Ephrata Merchant’s Arts and Crafts Festival and Restaurant Fair event brings over 200 artisans and vendors to downtown Ephrata. You’ll find an array of arts and crafts and favorite foods from local restaurants. When you stay at the Historic Smithton Inn, you’ll be only a minute or two down the street from the festival. It’s a perfect opportunity to explore our local downtown area!

I hope you’ll make one or more of these festivals a destination this summer. And don’t forget to revisit this post to share your experience!

By Rebecca Gallagher

Friday, June 27, 2014

Make a Day of it in Historic Gettysburg

Just an hour and a half from the Historic Smithton Inn, Gettysburg awaits with its rich history and wealth of attractions and activities for people of all ages.

Most known for its connection to the Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg (its 150th Anniversary was last year), Gettysburg offers a smorgasbord of attractions for lovers of history.

Battle of Gettysburg 150th Anniversary

There are LOTS of ways to see Gettysburg’s attractions.  

All are great ways to explore Gettysburg, so choose whichever appeals most to you. No matter how you decide to see the sights, realize that points of interest are spread out, and you’ll be doing some walking. I recommend that you wear comfortable shoes, and bring sun block and a good hat.

Eat in Gettysburg style.

When you want to re-energize with lunch or dinner during your day of sightseeing, I suggest you consider dining at Dobbin House. Not only is the food fabulous, but Dobbin House also offers an enriching Gettysburg experience. The staff members wear colonial clothes and the building has a fine historical ambiance. After you finish your meal, be sure to tour the building. The building was part of the Underground Railroad, and they have some fascinating exhibits featuring cut-outs in the walls and floors so visitors can see the conduits through which the slaves escaped.

Ghosts galore!

And if you're into ghosts and all thing mystical, you’ll adore the paranormal persona of Gettysburg. Ghost tours are available or you can venture out on your own to visit some of the renowned haunted spots in the area.

Wrap up the day with some retail therapy.

Toward the end of your day trip, you’ll probably think about taking some Gettysburg memorabilia home with you. You’ll find lots of shops in town that offer an endless supply of souvenirs ranging from inexpensive trinkets to legitimate battlefield relics.

Make the day your own.

Of course, there are countless other things to do so check out the Destination Gettysburg website for a full calendar of events and attractions. And if you’re staying here at the Inn, tell me about your interests. I’ll be happy to share more suggestions about things to do when you make your getaway to Gettysburg.

By Rebecca Gallagher

[Image:  150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg 2013 Facebook page]