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Taste of the town
Four thousand attend block party
“We’re celebrating our community.”
That’s how Kelly Withum, executive director for Venture Lititz, summarized last Friday’s block party.
Taste of Lititz featured the flavors of the community – food, art and entertainment – throughout the evening. And those who attended were in for a treat.
“This was an opportunity for people to gather, have fun, and enjoy what our local restaurants and entertainers have to offer,” she added.
Lititz is known for its chocolate and pretzels, and the downtown nightlife scene is on the rise. Taste of Lititz captured all that and more. The 29 food stands featured fare from restaurants, gourmet shops, ice cream parlors and farmers market stands.
Appalachian Brewing Company offered one of its signature items, a root beer float made with the brew pub’s own root beer. Pork & Wally’s offered tastes of jackalope brats and the chili that’s won awards at both this year’s and the 2013 Fire & Ice chili cookoff.
“We do a Wild Game Wednesday, so I thought we’d promote that and give people a taste of what we serve then. I changed the chili a bit; it’s usually made with pork, but I put in kangaroo instead. I was also pretty surprised that the jackalope brats were pretty popular. They have a bold taste, but also a bit of sweetness,” said Pork & Wally’s chef and co-owner Mark Wolownik.
Participants from the farmers market included Sweet Legacy Gourmet and Charles Family Market’s produce stand. As people browsed and ate, they also sampled wine from Waltz Vineyards’ Tasting Room and Twin Brook/Stargazers, which had booths set up directly in front of their store fronts.
Artist Ali Tome was kept busy drawing caricatures as people crowded around.
“I thought the kids would like having their caricatures done. They’ll have the drawing as a way to remember this event when they grow up,” said Mike Pluta, who walked to Taste of Lititz with his family from their Cedar Street home.
While Tome was busy drawing at one end of the block, Sharon Peffer was working her loom at the other. The Lititz artisan created a scarf as people watched.
“I enjoy telling people about the loom and showing them how it works. One of the things that I do a bit differently than other weavers is that I’ll often incorporate beads in my pieces. It’s my signature design and it adds a bit of glitz to the piece,” she explained.
Taste of Lititz truly was a taste of the community. People grooved to music and enjoyed the antics of juggler and musician Fantastic Vanden. The stilt walkers not only posed for photos with people, but also moved to the groove.
Mother-daughter duo Susan McKain and Sandy Swann were on-hand to sign copies of their new book, “Pudgy the Puppy Gets Moving.” This third collaboration features Lititz landmarks like the Wilbur Chocolate and Aaron’s Books. McKain said that a number of people already had the first and second books they’ve written and stopped by to purchase the third one and have it autographed. Some even brought the first two books with them to have signed.
Interactive art was also featured. Guests were invited to be photographed as part of an optical mirage created by Tapy Web Design. Brent Urmey of Tapy explained that large murals were painted on the ground near Sturgis Lane and, thanks to the magic of perspective, they appear to pop out in 3-D, but only if you are standing in the right spot.
“They’re very interactive optical illusions, so people love posing for pictures with them,” he said. “We did a Rubik’s Cube last year for the ‘Best Small Town’ celebration, and that was really popular. We just had a non-stop stream of curious, excited onlookers who can’t wait to see themselves inside an Optical Mirage. For A Taste of Lititz, we streamlined our process to make sure we could handle the kind of volume we saw last year, and I think that made a big difference.”
Interactive grid painting was a fun activity that doubled as a fundraiser for Venture Lititz. Six 16 by 20-inch canvases were each divided into 4 x 4 squares. Anyone could pay $1 to paint a square with a painting of food items such as donuts, strawberries or pretzels; a painting of the item was available to use as a reference.
In addition to the opportunity to paint a square, the $1 fee included a raffle ticket. Additional tickets could be purchased at a cost of six tickets for $5. At the end of the evening the canvases were raffled.
Seven-year old Chase Abreu and his friend, six-year old Maddox Witman tried their hand at painting. Abreu picked a donut while Whitman selected a strawberry. “It was fun, I wanted to do more,” Witman said after his masterpiece was completed.
The event drew not only local residents, but also visitors. Sharon and Paul MacWilliams were in town for the weekend from the Philadelphia area.
“We’re looking for a place to retire. We wanted to visit Lancaster County and Lititz because we heard that there were a number of retirement options,” Sharon explained.
She and Paul found out about Taste of Lititz earlier in the day from someone in one of the shops. “This is such a friendly town and everyone is so welcoming. Our experience today has really moved Lititz to the top of our list for retirement living,” she said.
“This was a party with your neighbors minus the cleanup afterward,” Withum said with a smile, adding that nearly 4,000 people attended the three and a half hour street party.