FlavorFEST & the Garden Spot

Lancaster County is known as “the Garden Spot of America.’ Locals here mark the seasons and the months by the foods that are available, often starting with strawberries in the spring, moving on to corn and peaches in the summer, and then apples and pumpkins in the fall, to name just a few examples. We will roam the backroads to buy directly at the farm, or head to one of the many farmers markets to shop and compare. Some of the most beautiful rural scenery in the world is enhanced as the crops are planted and harvested, such as the green fields of corn that turn into rows of brown corn shocks by the autumn, and fields of pumpkins creating rows of orange dots across the landscape.

This year's FlavorFEST celebration encompasses many fascinating aspects that will require you to stay a few days or make repeated visits. The Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau website... www.padutchcountry.com ...is a great place to explore the options, the special foodie events, and the offers for Restaurant Week.

On the website, you will find a section on Culinary Trails. These five trail maps are available at the Visitors Bureau on Greenfield Road (just off Route 30), or may be downloaded: Sweet N’ Salty, Dairy, Market Basket, Water & Winery, and Ale Trail. Besides enjoying the great scenery these driving tours provide, they will also lead you to explore both famous and lesser-known food locations

For example, if you take the Dairy Trail, you will begin at the old-fashioned ice cream parlor at Strasburg Country Store and Creamery, move on to a working Amish dairy farm at Riehl’s Quilts & Crafts, make another stop for ice cream at Coleman’s, head north for the amazing dairy tour at Kreider Farms (where 1,600 cows are milked on a revolving carousel), and then finish up at Hershey’s Chocolate World, where a lot of this local product goes to make milk chocolate. (Whew!) I’ll leave it up to you to check out the remaining trails.

As you travel around the area, the kids might enjoy counting cows along the way. That will keep them busy, since we are home to more than 98,000 cows on more than 1,800 family dairy farms. Have we "Got Milk?" Yep, that provides enough milk for about 10.2 million people!

The Visitors Bureau has also designated Foodie Towns. Villages and small town life are an important part of our cultural tradition. Let’s take a quick look at one of the three Foodie towns. Intercourse is known for its name along with its special mix of crafts and foods. You can easily park your car and explore the village. Activities might include a stop at Kitchen Kettle (a signature FlavorFEST site), twisting a pretzel at Intercourse Pretzel Factory, or observing the work at the Intercourse Canning Company. Each stop provides free samples, too! Then move on to explore the other two Foodie Towns --- Lititz and Hershey.

Finally, there are four designated Market Towns. Depending on the days you are here, be sure to visit one of them. The markets recognized for the FlavorFEST celebration are Bird-in-Hand, Columbia, Ephrata (Green Dragon), and downtown Lancaster. The Central Market in the city of Lancaster is the nation’s oldest continuously-operating farmers’ market, offering baked goods, fresh produce, and meats since 1730. Get up and go early on market days (Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday). You may see some locals with their "market baskets," making the rounds to their favorite stands. The foods offered reflect the diversity of the area. And just a few steps from the market are several fine dining, ethnic, and unique local (non-chain) restaurants, lest you think we are only about chicken pot pie and corn on the cob!

Amish Country News Publisher's Message by Brad Igou (2003)


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