Central Pennsylvania Pridefest aka Our Trip to Harrisburg for #AMPLIFY

This past weekend, Ledcat and I took a road trip to the capital city to experience their pridefest. Overall, we found the festival to be pretty nice – the location is a riverfront park along a long winding, shady path. There were A LOT of vendors, most hyper local and engaged. The entertainment was at one end of the path so the noise didn’t overwhelm the vending areas. The festival kicks off at noon and wraps up around 6 PM. Admission is $10 which is on the steep side for Pennsylvania, but since we were vending – it was built into our costs for us anyway.

This is just the right size Pride for me – one attendee described it as “a gay, chatty farmers market type pride” which is perfect! It also balanced corporate sponsors with small businesses in a way that reminds me of Pittsburgh Pride circa 2003/2004.

I wrote a few dispatches while we traveled so you can get a taste of the flavor of our experience. We drove to Harrisburg on Friday and drove back to Pittsburgh on Sunday so we had a bit of time to try a few restaurants & see some sites. And get very, very wet from so much rain.

I’m pretty sure we are the only ones who would drive three hours to Pride only to end up in a quasi-Christian coffeehouse surrounded by 70-year-old women demanding covers of Frank Sinatra. Yeah, that’s about right.

Photos from Pride are at the bottom of this post.

Day One

Jul 29, 2016 10:40pm
Harrisburg.

We made it through the Turnpike – thank goodness for Starbucks at the rest stops. I grew up with parents who never let us buy anything at rest stops EVER so I feel so decadent now.

We are staying near the river front at a Comfort Inn that’s slightly seedy in a Grey Gardens sort of chic. It is pretty okay, one of those hidden gem places perhaps that’s more than meets the eye. I’m factoring in free parking, breakfast buffet and proximity to the park in my concept of “pretty okay” and trying to ignore the rest.

We had dinner at a well-reputed local place that was a bit “meh” (foie gras, really?) but filled with men carrying man bags which was a lovely sight.

Then we took a stroll along the river, watching the sun set over the the Susquehana. We met some photographers and talked about various things until the train went flying by over our heads. That was the moment we all reverted to 8 year olds mesmerized by the mighty power of the railroads. I found myself counting cars and reading the names out loud. It was awesome. What a treat!

Pride is in the park right next door to the hotel. That’s convenient. I’m having a last-minute panic attack that I was supposed to bring my tent and not my table/chair, but there’s nothing I can do about that now. Keep your fingers crossed.

I’m going to read my book. Stay tuned for more dispatches.

Day Two

Harrisburg, Day Two

Woke up. The bed was really springy so neither of us slept great. Headed to breakfast. Sigh. All styrofoam – plates, cups, bowls. It was a cruddy breakfast, but we salvaged a meal. Who in God’s name decided a container of fructose mixed with high fructose is the equivalent of syrup? Gag.

Headed to Pride. I had a meltdown over the tent situation, but Ledcat fixed me. Met many peeps. Ate grilled cheese. Lots of fogs, lots of pride flag capes, rainbow socks, etc. Rain came, left, came back. We trudged out. Ate delicious Indian food and ended up at quasi-Christian coffeeshop in Camp Hill. Boozy older white women tossing back the vino while ogling the mediocre guitarist covering Sinatra. Just like you find at the gay bars …

This Pride is pretty nice – a mix of local vendors and corporate folks. The park is a great setting. It is my speed. The hotel is cheesy, but in a sweet way. It feels like it has a story. I just know to skip breakfast until we get to Starbucks. Ha.

So now my display gear is drying in hotel room. I’ve still not found a great pride tee shirt. Maybe in Erie?

Does your Pride have great shirts?

Day Three

Harrisburg: The Final Chapter

We woke, packed the car and headed out about 20 minutes behind schedule. I bought a horrible cup of coffee at a gas station to tide me over. Finally, we hit a rest stop with a Starbucks and I was saved.

We watched a BMW almost mow down a group of motorcyclists on the Turnpike as a thunderstorm chased all of us off the road. Ledcat deftly nagivated that mess (no actual collision) and we ended up at the world’s smallest rest stop filled with hundreds of drivers of cars that are too big for them to drive. I staked out a table while Ledcat got lunch. We are big believers that the entire family (or group) does not have to stand in line together – anywhere. Apparently, we are alone in this belief.

Now we were more than 45 minutes behind schedule. Fortunately, the schedule was totally arbitrary. We enjoyed our trial period of Sirius satellite radio even though neither of us had read the manual so we were stuck between 80’s hits and an Elvis Presley channel. Elvis has a lot of songs.

One last stop. We discuss that fervor of our parents generation to drive far and long without stopping, regardless of our pleas. We both have to pee far too often to be okay with that mentality. Road safety says you should stop every two hours for at least ten minutes. I think there’s a happy medium, but know that if you brag about driving 12 hours without stopping – I probably won’t ever get in your car to go anywhere. I gotta pee without feeling like a slacker.

Now we are home. We had about 43 seconds of enthusiastic greetings from the critters before mid-afternoon summer lethargy sent them back into their swooning positions around the house. Sadly, the only cookable foot item in the house is a frozen lasagna so we had to turn on the oven since we are both sick of eating out.

Now we just have to resume the usual Sunday night activities. Sadly (again) some critter peed somewhere in the house and thus the search is on to find the source of the smell. Fun times. It is nice that the house cleaner came on Thursday and that our lovely pet sitter scooped the boxes. If only someone would haul the bags upstairs. Ah well …

We are home until our trip to Erie at the end of August. I could never see the Turnpike again and be very happy. I’ll take 79 any day of the week even without the Starbucks options.

Oh, it is important to note that we acquired 8 new tote bags this weekend, a half-dozen bottle of water, a few pens, a slap bracelet and a refillable water bottle that looks like a catheter bag. All of the flyers, handout, papers, and so forth were destroyed in the rain. So the swag haul is decent, but lacking in context.

Central PA Pridefest 2016
Click for the full photo album