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Ephrata is Happening
I feel pretty confident in stating that the threat of snow is over until at least maybe November! That being said, everyone is extremely excited about the many opportunities to play, shop and eat out of doors and wear flip flops!
For centuries, our parents and grandparents have encouraged us to play outdoors. I can remember the old expression my parents would say, “Stop bothering me and go play in traffic.” We lived in Baltimore city, enough said. Well, there is no need to “play in traffic,” especially in Ephrata.
Come to find out, the Borough of Ephrata has the largest park system per capita in the State of Pennsylvania. Way to go little old Ephrata! Over 322 acres are dedicated to recreational usage including neighborhood parks, athletic complexes, mountain land and meadows. Sixteen of those public parks are nestled in residential communities throughout the borough.
Among those, you will come across an indoor/outdoor archery range and the most recent addition, the Linear Park Trail. The trail was constructed along the right-of-way of the old Reading-Columbia Railroad. The trails paved, level, numerous benches and trash receptacles and legible signage make the trail ideal for cyclists, walkers, strollers and wheelchair users. It is also one of the few multi-use trails in south-central PA that is lit along its entire length, making it relatively safe for evening use. For information and a map of the borough parks & trails visit ephrataboro.org/2227/Parks. You just might find a few parks you never knew existed!
One the largest and most active of the parks is the Tom Grater Memorial Park. The park offers a bit more action involving a ton of spring and summer activities suitable for all ages. The month of May is the kick off to several events happening at the park.
First off, is Concerts by the Creek, sponsored by the borough and several local businesses and organizations, bringing in the lawn chairs and families for free music and a relaxing mid week night out.
The park will be rockin’ the house with the American Rogues. Back by popular demand, the Rogues will appear May 20 at 6:30 p.m. The Rogues consist of high-energy bagpipes with clever use of percussion, keyboards and guitars. The band won Album and Group of the Year in the Battle of the Celtic Bands in Ireland in 2010 and boasts seven World Pipe Band Championships.
No need to have dinner, there will be a variety of local nonprofit food vendors, to fill your bellies. For information on the concert series, visit concertsbythecreek.org or facebook.
One of the oldest and most historic structures in the park is the Eicher Arts Center and Indian Museum that dates back to 1733. The Eicher Arts Center is host to an array of free events all year long. Most famous and well known of these events is Jigger Day June 22 from 3-6 p.m.
But even before Jigger Day, the first of their Free Music Series for the spring will be held May 18 from 1-4 p.m. Beyond the music and refreshments, the day will promote local non profits and a way to help show your support by dropping off food and material donations for the Ephrata Area Social Services (EASS), the Good Samaritan Shelter, and Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services. For details on of the events call, 738-3084 or facebook
Looking for the ultimate summer time park activity? Summer is always about the pool. The park is home to the newly renovated and expanded Ephrata Community Pool. I can remember the days when my kids ran around selling passes to earn their own way for a membership.
Membership is still very affordable and offers such a wonderful variety for children and parents. They have added pool special events that include midnight swims, teen night and movie night. Visit the Ephrata Recreation Center or online at ephratarec.com for your membership and updates on happenings at the pool this summer!
Love the park setting but not an outdoor lover. The Ephrata Performing Arts Center’s Sharadin Bigler Theatre, offers some of the best local community theater in the region. The theatre hosts performance all year long in their 300 seat, three quarter thrust stage that allows a very intimate setting for the theatre lover. Most appropriate for this time of year will be the opening of their spring production Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. The theatre also offers a Summer Theatre Camp for children in grades 1-7. The theatre also hosts a variety of special events and musical concerts throughout the year suitable for all ages. For updates and tickets, call 733-7966 or visit on the web at ephrataperformingartscenter.com.
Last, but not least of the exciting happenings at the Ephrata Park, is Motorcycle Sunday. During its 15 years of serving the community, motorcycle fans and food fans, the park and Ephrata community sees up to 6,000 motorcycles over the April through November gatherings. Riders from as far away as West Virginia come to meet, chat, compare bikes, have coffee and enjoy the buffet breakfast.
Everyone is welcome and the Ephrata rally always has a wide variety of bikes on display. Bikes generally begin arriving around 8 a.m. and the rally winds down about noon. It is held rain or shine. Sponsored by the Cloister Post 429 of the American Legion, this event turns out to be one of the best attended fundraisers for the nonprofit organization. I love to go out for breakfast on Sundays and you cannot beat the price. Prepared and served by the Sons of the Legion, the buffet style breakfast is a bargain. Eight dollars buys all you can eat scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, ham, sausage, toast and coffee or juice. The bacon is cooked to perfection. Breakfast is served between 8-11 a.m., and the boys will cook a whopping 300 pounds of eggs!
If you are not a breakfast eater, the Ladies Auxiliary Booth also offers a “Continental Breakfast.” You can visit the legion’s website page for all the events and dining options at amlegion429.com/home or call: 733-2576
If you looking for a park outside of the Ephrata Borough be sure to visit the Ephrata Township Park and Roland Park in Akron for additional outside activities.
So Ephrata has you covered in music and activities but what about food?
Similar to the movie, Field of Dreams, if you build it, he will come. Well in Ephrata, if you build a deck they will come. They will also eat and drink. How the world loves to eat outside!
I can remember being there to “Christen the deck” at the Hilltop Inn, which included a great experience with my son, Parker, and learning the Dutch word “kutz”. Sorry Park! Moving right along, The Hilltop, located at 415 E Main Street in Ephrata, has been in business for more than 60 years. Best known for its casual “Cheers” atmosphere, great food and drinks can be served on the deck from May-September, as well as indoors.
The Hilltop serves an eclectic menu of steaks, fresh seafood, sandwiches and pizza, as well as Greek and Vietnamese cuisine and has recently switched up their menu to include vegetarian options like the Tofu Thai Noodle Bowl. For updates and reservations, call 733-6331 or visit on the web at htopinn.com.
Next in line of the “everyone knows your name kinda place” is The Deck and it’s FAMOUS ORANGE CRUSH! The Deck is not just known for the Crush but has become a fun place to hang out, meet friends, and get a good reasonably priced meal. They offer great burgers and fresh cut fries and menu selections come with very generous food portions and good quality. Located at 222 North Reading Road, the Dutch Maid “Deck” offers a very friendly atmosphere where you can relax and wind down after a busy week. For more information, visit dutchmaiddeck.com or call 721-3325.
Formerly known as Barnee’s, the Tiki Barn is located at 1398 West Main St. The Barn offers the full menu of the Olde Lincoln House as well as daily food and drink specials but has a much more casual setting. The Tiki Barn will kick off the season with a Cinco de Mayo party the first weekend in May. Captain Morgan promotions and other special events are held throughout the summer. For updates call 733-3490 or visit them on the web at oldelincolnhouse.com.
Like to people watch and check out the local scenery, downtown Ephrata offers Ephrata Pizza, a long time family owned business that recently added several tables and umbrellas to sit, eat and watch the walkers by, as Mr. Esheleman says, “characters we’ve gottem!” Ephrata Pizza is also known for their fresh baked bread used to create their delicious subs and pizzas. Do not forget about the homemade cannoli’s. Contact them at 733-2611.
And the list can go on and on… just to name a few more in the immediate area is one of the best authentic Mexican food restaurants La Borimex Mexican Restaurant at 1278 28th Division Highway, 733-2105. Just down the street from them, you can find the latest addition to 322 the Outback Creamery & Grille. Once the home of Beam’s Music, they have converted the location into a touch of the west, with food hardy enough for any cowboy! Selections include a full breakfast, hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, cheese steaks, fresh cut fries, platters, homemade soups, salad bar and the sweetest part; 25 flavors of ice cream. All of which can be experienced outside in the fully shaded area with six picnic table and park like setting. You can reach them at 738-0365 or facebook.
So now we are stuffed and need to walk and of course, shop off some of those calories. The Ephrata Merchants Association will sponsor, for the second year, the open air market.
On May 17, the Ephrata Whistle Stop Open Air Market will open at the Ephrata Plaza, Main Street. Hours this year will be from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
The market will be home to 20-some vendors offering an eclectic blend of local farmers, local artisans and local small businesses offering not only healthy options to eat but several unique hand crafted products
Opening day of the market will include a Storybook Party Theme, including a special visit from a special princess and strolling musicians, free chair massages and much more. There will also be a shopping voucher available for market buyers, offering great discounts to other Ephrata businesses. You can follow market updates at ephratamerchants.com or facebook.
It might be that just walking it off may not be enough for you. Not actually located in Ephrata, but pretty darn close is the West View Golf Course or more commonly known as the Akron Chip & Putt. It is a challenging, 18-hole, par 54 course. The total yardage for the course is 1400 yards with the longest three holes being 120 yards each. This scenic course, with several water hazards and elevation changes, makes for an exciting and beautiful golf experience. It is a skillfully crafted course design by Lloyd Seidel in 1965. With timeless beauty, West View Golf Course is a classic located at 3062 Rothsville Road Akron. Call 859-2333 or visit westviewgolfcourse.com.
Still not enough to keep you busy, always check the Ephrata Merchants Facebook page or website at ephratamerchnats.com for happenings all over Ephrata!