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If you live in the greater Harrisburg area, you’ve likely heard all about the city debt and bankruptcy. Things seem to be headed in the wrong direction for this small city of 50,000 people.

Yet there is one bright spot- the Harrisburg Young Professionals.harrisburg young professionals

This group of active professionals has really lead the charge in the renaissance of the city; supporting local businesses and bringing people back into the city to live and play. Formed in 1998, the organization has grown rapidly, recently surpassing more than 750 members and corporate partnerships. Members come from Harrisburg law firms, banks, accounting companies, and many other local businesses to have fun and support the city.

Within the Harrisburg Young Professionals, there are numerous committees for members interested in marketing, city beautification, sports, and much more. Whatever your personal or professional interests might be, there is sure to be a place for you to contribute to the organization and grow the city. Besides the networking events at local restaurants and bars, the HYP sports league is extremely popular. Nearly year-round you can sign up for recreational sports like flag football, dodgeball, kickball and more. What could be more enjoyable then playing dodgeball against a team of Harrisburg tax attorneys?

HYP also hosts a number of special events throughout the year. They have both member-only events and also socials that are open to people interested in joining. One especially popular event hosted by the Harrisburg Young Professionals is the annual home tour, where members can visit beautiful homes and gardens of residents within the city. During the tour, attendees can see dozens of homes and enjoy an afterparty with food and drink as well. The idea is to showcase the city as a great place to live and this event surely succeeds! HYP has successfully attracted many new young professionals not only to visit the city, but actually move here. What an impact that has made!

The cost of joining HYP annually is just $40, quite cheap considering all of the benefits of membership! Along with great events and activities year-round members also enjoy a city passport entitling them to great discounts at local restaurants and businesses in Harrisburg. If you haven’t already joined, I hope you’re now sold on the benefits of HYP membership! Meet new people, have fun, and use your skills to support the city! There is certainly a lot of work to be done in Harrisburg, but you really can make the city a better place to live, work, and play by joining HYP. Visit HYP.org to learn more about the organization and how you can get involved!

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I’ve been in Harrisburg for about 10 years now (yikes!) and I sometimes forget about this area’s hidden treasures. There are a lot! Being that two of my biggest passions are eating great food and enjoying fine drink, downtown Harrisburg is a place I frequent quite a bit. I’m familiar with all of the restaurants and bars downtown, but perhaps too familiar because I often forget about the wonderful food and drink offerings the Harrisburg Hilton has!

Not only does the Hilton have the best brunch Harrisburg has to offer in their Raspberries restaurant, but they also have the Golden Sheaf restaurant for fine dining, the Patio for outdoor seating, the Bar for live jazz and Market Square Cafe for more casual meals. Have you tried these restaurants lately? They are all excellent. If you are a wine aficionado, definitely check out the Golden Sheaf for a mind blowing selection of world class wine. You probably didn’t know that the Golden Sheaf is Harrisburg’s only AAA Four Diamond restaurant and has won multiple awards from Wine Spectator for their wine selection. (If you’re not familiar with the area I can assure you this is a big deal for Harrisburg!)

Don’t underestimate the entertainment value of these venues either! The Patio is by far the best outdoor seating available in downtown Harrisburg, and what could be better than sitting outside and enjoying free jazz on a summer evening with a great craft beer, scotch, or martini?Hilton Harrisburg Patio

Also, if you’re looking for awesome special events in central PA the Hilton can certainly accommodate large parties or weddings, but actually puts on a number of their own special events that are definitely worth checking out. They have a winemaker dinner series every couple of months that highlights wine and food pairings from a particular part of the world, they occasionally do unique pairings like oysters with martinis, and they also have a number of outdoor events on the Patio through the warmer months as well.

The moral of the story here is get back to the Hilton Harrisburg! We’ve all been there at one time or another, but this place is always worth considering when you head downtown for a night on the town. They have different buffet offerings throughout the week at Raspberries, and also have fantastic deals for happy hour in Harrisburg. Did I mention they have free live jazz? I’m talking live jazz for happy hour every night! Really a fun venue and if you’re into great food and drink like I am you’ll surely enjoy any of the Hilton Harrisburg’s restaurants and bars.

Cheers!

Harrisburg is a small town, there’s no doubt about that. But despite it’s size, one local organization is making a world of impact for thousands of kids living thousands of miles away. The organization is Forgotten Voices International, and their focus is helping children orphaned by AIDS in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

On April 14th, 2012 midstate residents will have the opportunity to meet with and hear from Forgotten Voices President Ryan Keith and Africa/Zambia Director Remmy Hamapande at Transcend Church in Harrisburg. Remmy will be in the US for only a few weeks before returning to Zambia.

I’ve personally had the opportunity to meet Remmy once before, and I can wholeheartedly say that he is the definition of a servant leader. He chose to leave his full time position with Barclay Bank in pursuit of a theological education at the Theological College of Central Africa (TCCA).

Remmy then joined Forgotten Voices International as the Zambia Director in 2008, and was appointed Africa Director in 2010. He communicates with and visits church-lead projects throughout Zambia which are in partnership with Forgotten Voices to care for children orphaned by AIDS and create sustainable solutions within the community. His unique combination of business savvy and a pastor’s heart enable him to serve as an ally and advisor to Zambian churches, and a representative of these churches to the broader Forgotten Voices family.

In his own community, Remmy serves as Associate Pastor of Children’s Ministry at his local congregation. Most recently the Zambia Brethren in Christ Conference appointed Remmy Chair of Christian Education for Zambia.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear from a truly inspiring individual during the Forgotten Voices Service taking place at Transcend Church in Harrisburg on April 14th!

So recently I was married, big deal right? Well, it certainly was for me but the point is my search for the perfect thank you gift to my parents resulted in a fantastic find.

This find happens to be an awesome day trip for anyone living in the Harrisburg area, or within driving range of greater Philadelphia for that matter. The company is called Bucks County Food Tours, and the trip is foodie Shangri-la.

I’m talking a guided tour through greater Philly’s best local food gems. Including, but not limited to, small batch ice cream, pastured meats, locally roasted coffee, cheeses, baked goods and more. Oh yes there is more and I’ve already booked my tickets to tasty town.

Next weekend I’ll be taking my parents and wife (shameless gift idea really) on a 5 hours trip through numerous stops and enjoying every bite of it. I’ll make sure to post photos and notes from the trip, well, post trip of course. 

If you’d like to learn more about Bucks County Food Toursfan their facebook page to stay in the loop.

Catch ya on the flip side!

Brian

At first glance, ‘most livable’ could mean a lot of things, but I wanted to make sure this article gets a little more attention because Forbes.com actually uses a very legitimate set of statistics to grade their picks for ‘Most Livable Cities in America-

“Results were the result of comparing five-year income growth per household and cost of living from Moody’s Economy.com, crime data and leisure index from Sperling’s Best Places, and annual unemployment statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

Harrisburg ranked 12th on the list. Personally I think making the list at all is really quite commendable, what do you think?

Check out the full article as well as Forbes ‘Most Miserable Cities’ list.

With so much football fandamonium and tension existing between Eagles and Steelers fans in the midstate, I for one thought that a professional indoor football team would be a sure success in Harrisburg. I was thrilled to hear that the American Indoor Football Association was adding a new team to the 2009 schedule- the Harrisburg Stampede.

Photo by PAUL CHAPLIN, The Patriot-News

Forget driving 2 or more hours and paying $100 plus for a lousy seat at an NFL game, the Stampede play at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg and tickets sell as low as $7 ! Not to mention the entertainment value of a smaller field completely walled in to ensure bigger hits, higher scores, and plenty of cheap entertainment. So these games would probably sell out right?

Well, not exactly. I attended the Stampede’s first home game and despite all the promotion and hype about Harrisburg’s first pro indoor football team, the Farm Show Complex was less that half full. Even so, I didn’t suspect anyone left the game without feeling like they got their money’s worth- it was an exciting game! Big hits, loud music, lots of free giveaways, and plenty of scrapping between the two teams. Not to mention the game was a narrow win for the Stampede that had the entire crowd hyped to the final minutes of play!

So surely, future home games for the Stampede would be packed out right?

Well I returned to Farm Show Complex last night with a few friends to cheer on the Stampede and I must sadly say that there were probably less people in attendance then the first game I went to. A real pity! I’m not sure exactly why the Stampede haven’t ‘caught on’ quite yet in Harrisburg, but I do hope it happens soon. I don’t want to see the Stampede follow the way of the Harrisburg Heat.

Photo by SEAN SIMMERS, The Patriot-News

Perhaps there are just too many alternatives in the greater Harrisburg area for sports fans? We’ve got roller hockey, roller derby, rugby, ice hockey, baseball, basketball, woman’s football, soccer and more! There’s plenty to choose from for sure, I just hope Harrisburg gets behind the Stampede. Take the kids, take your friends, family, or your boss. Support the investment that the owners of the Stampede have made in the city of Harrisburg. For the price you’ll pay to get in it’s an easy entertainment investment that I heartily suggest looking into.

You can find their schedule and all the usual team info at HarrisburgStampede.com, and don’t forget to show them some love on their facebook page as well.

Go Stampede!

If you haven’t already noticed, I’m taking on a new page to my blog that is currently entitled ‘local specialty shops.’ I haven’t found any other list of independent specialty stores around the Harrisburg region so I decided to build one myself.

It’s still very early stage but please feel free to leave your favorite shop in the comment section, I’ll be happy to add them.  I just wanted to build a place where people could learn about all the fantastic little niche shops we have in the greater Harrisburg region; from food and drink to home decor and clothing retailers. There’s just no reason to shop national stores with all that’s available to us here!

You can tell that Spring is soon upon us, if not from the changing weather or resetting of clocks, then certainly from the annual release of shamrock shakes. Luckily, Spring ushers in a much better treat for the taste buds than those strange green milk shakes – water ice.

I’ve always been a sucker for water ice, and besides National Mustard Day, my second favorite holiday has always been that one day maggiesof the year when water ice is free for the masses- the first day of Spring.

Of course, you can pick up a delicious free ice from any local Rita’s on March 20th, they’re everywhere nowadays, but for a more local favorite make sure to stop by Maggie’s Italian Ice in Mechanicsburg as they too will doll out free water ice to mark this festive occasion. I like Maggie’s for the ever changing unique menu of creative flavors: peanut butter fudge, blueberries ‘n cream, and mint chocolate chip are just a few of my personal favs.

There’s no better way to celebrate the end of snow, slush, salt, and cold car seats than a free water ice- yum.

I’ve noticed lately that there are more coffee shops around Harrisburg than I have time to visit, especially around Camp Hill. I thought I’d create a poll to get an idea of which places are the most popular, please add a destination if I’ve missed it!

Whether you’re looking for last minute holiday gifts, stockpiling future birthday presents or just want to reward yourself for all that hard work you’ve put in lately (of course we believe you), you don’t have to settle with a boring best buy gift card. You honestly don’t have to try too hard or look too far for some creative gifts that are sure to please. I’m personally a huge proponent of the whole buy local movement, it’s just a smart way to support your local economy and get more for your money, gifts are no different. More likely than not, wherever you live there is a unique little gift shop or food store, a local winery, a mom and pop shop that makes something you’ve never seen at Walmart.

In the greater Harrisburg area there exists a number of unique shops that are sure to be enjoyed, remembered, and most importantly used. The National Retail Association estimates that nearly 20% of gift cards vanut-020are never even used- pity. Instead try the Virginia Nut Shop, a family owned nut and candy specialty store since 1959 offering the absolute tastiest varieties of snacks, along with their famoustarnation37s ‘blisters.’ How about some incredible sauces? Torchbearer Sauces have a number of unique flavors for any type of cooking or food that requires something sticky. Harry’s House of Heat is another local sauce shop that offers some intense hot sauces for that extra tough guy uncle of yours (he will cry, trust me).  You can even find international gifts right here in Central PA, Oxford Hall Celtic Shop and Josie’s German Food Market and Delicatessen both offer authentic ethnic groceries, baked goods, sweets, and much more. Sinful baked goods are never hard to find around Harrisburg, my personal favorite is Ciao! Bakery, bring some peanut-butter truffles from this shop and you’re guaranteed to make friends at that holiday party. Of course, you can never go wrong with the gift of award winning wine, West Hanover Winery is a local business that is worthy of sharing (responsibly of course).

The list can really go on and on, please feel free to add your own favorite specialty shop if I’ve missed it. The idea here is simple: give something that actually has some thought or meaning behind it, give something that represents your locale, give anything besides that boring best buy gift card.