Monday, December 8, 2008

PA Roadtrips through Schuylkill

In case you do not subscribe to the state tourism magazine, PA Pursuits, you may want to give them a call and order a copy.

For the past three years, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office has been publishing a quarterly magazine as a seasonal supplement to the state's travel guide. The Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau normally advertises in the Summer issue, but this coming year, you will also see our advertisement in the Spring issue as well.
But if you check out right now, you can order yourself a copy of the Winter Pursuits. Inside, you will find a two page driving tour through the communities of Upper Schuylkill County.

A two page spread features our local heritage sites such as the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine, the Hibernian House and the Ashland Mothers Memorial. Coal mining history, the Molly Maguires and even "screamers" from Tony's Lunch in Girardville are the topic of discussion in PA Pursuits popular, "PA Roadtrip" special section.
To get yourself a copy of the Winter Pursuits Magazine, stop in at the Visitors Center in downtown Pottsville and pick one up, or you can call 1-800-Visit-PA to begin your subscription.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Out and About in Schuylkill County

For the last two days, I have been spending time on Route 61 delivering brochures and checking out the scenery while the weather is being cooperative. In fact, I just returned from a brochure run to Frackville and I have to tell you, today is a great day to explore Schuylkill County. The temperature is hovering in the upper 70s and the fall foliage colors are everywhere.

Yesterday, I drove down to Cabelas and Hawk Mountain to deliver brochures and to get out of the office. Looking north from the Cabelas parking lot, the sky was a perfect blue and the Blue Mountain was showing early fall colors from the ridgeline on down. The scenery was quite impressive. When I pulled onto the Hawk Mountain access road, a group of hikers and bird watchers were heading off to visit the South Lookout with binoculars in hand. The parking lot was nearly full and the Visitors Center was humming with activity. The air was perfect on top of the hill, the fall colors painted against that blue sky made the trip worthwhile. My visit made me think that this weekend will be a busy one for Hawk Mountain and Schuylkill County. My reasons you ask?

First: The peak fall foliage season is upon us from this weekend, through the third full week of October.

Second: The raptor migration (Hawks, Eagles etc.) is at its peak this month.

Third: Have you seen the free fall in gasoline prices?

The drive to Hawk Mountain was made pleasant for a number of reasons, and one of those reasons is the present price of gasoline. Can you believe they are forecasting $2.50 a gallon by Thanksgiving (or at this rate, Halloween)?

So let me tell you about gas prices on Route 61. When I left Pottsville yesterday the price was $3.15 at Norwegian Street. In (Schuylkill) Haven it was $3.05 and $2.99. At Renningers Market the price was $3.06 and at Pine Dale, $3.09. At Molino, gas was again, $3.15.

Today when I left Pottsville, gas was $2.99, while the three gas stations near Saint Clair sold the cheap grade at $2.99, $2.98 and $2.99. At Frackville, the I-81 travelers were paying $3.07. Falling prices have got to have a positive impact on business right? I hope the combination of falling prices and falling leaves generates an increase in business and visitation for Schuylkill County this weekend and the remainder of the month.

My Visit to Frackville

Since my trip to Frackville coincided with the mid-day hour I figured I would visit the Dutch Kitchen for lunch. Checking the lunch specials at the counter, I ordered the Pot Pie Casserole and the Crab Bisque Soup. Now I have eaten Lobster Bisque in the past, so I figured Crab Bisque would be just as good. The Dutch Kitchen did not disappoint! The soup was perfect, and the two fresh pieces of bread were light, fluffy and recently baked. After finishing the first piece of bread, I knew the other piece was toast, .. er, I mean gonna be history. But I was going to save the second piece for after the main course.

The Pot Pie Casserole was yummy and there was a flavor sensation I could not convince my taste buds to identify. Was it cabbage or celery? I used to say I lost my taste buds when I served in the Army, but today, the Dutch Kitchen resuscitated them. After finishing the second slice of fluffy bread, there was no way I had space available for dessert. I left the Dutch Kitchen happy and satisfied. It is no wonder that Dutch Kitchen has been featured on the popular travel website,

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shenandoah Heritage Day

This weekend, the community of Shenandoah will celebrate their annual Ethnic Heritage Festival on Saturday, August 23rd. Despite the recent events that have resulted in national attention and media coverage, this is one event that has the potential to move this community toward healing.

Over the last 13 years I have attended many county events through my responsibilities here at the Visitors Bureau. During this time period, I have come to know this event as one of the best events in terms of food and entertainment variety. Where else can you find such a variety of foods from Eastern Europe, to East Asia and to Central Amercia?

Shenandoah Pennsylvania has come to be known as the home of Mrs T's Pierogies, Kowalonek's Kielbasy and the Annual Ethnic Heritage Day celebration. Hopefully this weekend will bring all of our senses to that common interest in good food and fraternity.

Peace, Paz, Pace, Pokoj!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Dog Days of Summer?

The “Dog Days of Summer” have arrived in Schuylkill County and we have a busy month of ahead. Despite the early summer rise in gasoline prices, Schuylkill County has been drawing strong numbers this summer. And since prices have dropped over the last few weeks we should see a steady flow of business.

As I write this, there are but two days left to the Schuylkill County Fair. Last night's performance by Elvis Tribute Artist Shawn Klush, drew thousands to Summit Station. The next two nights will be equally successful as Country Music star, Mark Chestnutt, performs tonight on the main stage at 9 p.m. and Davy Jones of the Monkees, performs on Saturday at 9 p.m. Tomorrow night's performance is once again, sponsored by the Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau. Saturday's entertainment also includes Aldaliz Corona of Shenandoah, this year's Schuylkill County Idol.

I promise that August is going to be hectic in Schuylkill County.

Next weekend, the City of Pottsville will play host to hundreds of Antique and Classic Cars as the county's top single day event is scheduled for Sunday, August 10th. The Annual Great Pottsville Cruise kicks off on Wednesday, August 6th and runs through next weekend with events in and around Pottsville.

Those of you familiar with the Pottsville Cruise, know about the annual cruise car that is raffled off each year. This year's car is a 1995 Admiral Blue Corvette Coupe that looks like a sweet ride. Now I am not the corvette type. I like my 1999 Ford Contour with the cracked windshield and the tire with the slow leak, but I would gladly accept a corvette to cruise around in.

Thanks to our friend Jerry Enders, owner of Jerry's Classic Cars and Collectibles Museum, we have four cruise car tickets to give away. Yes, I said we have four tickets to give away and only readers of our blog will have the opportunity to get a free chance at that Blue Corvette! So if you are reading this blog and would like a chance at that cruise car, simply give us a call at 570-622-7700. Tell us that you read about this offer on our Blog and we will enter your name for the raffle of this year's cruise car. If you are one of the first four callers, we will ask for your name, address and phone number.

Oh and remember to call us Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. or 5 p.m., or Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

A quick list of great August events include:

August 1-2 Schuylkill County Fair, Summit Station
August 3, 1st Annual Bike Bash, Pottsville
August 6-10 Great Pottsville Cruise
August 16-17, Lithuanian Days, Schuylkill Mall
August 16, Pioneer Tunnel Day, Ashland
August 16, Benigna Creek Winery Festival, Klingerstown
August 16, Island Fest, Schuylkill Haven
August 23, Shenandoah Heritage Day

For a detailed calendar of events, check out the website at

Now call us for those Cruise Car tickets!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

This Weekend in Schuylkill County?

Have you ever heard anyone say, “There’s never anything to do around here!”

We are in the middle of the Summer of 2008 and every weekend has got to have at least a half dozen unique events going on around this county. This particular weekend features a couple of the big draw annual events as the Clover’s Irish Weekend kicks off on Friday night, and the Schuylkill County Fair opens on Sunday. Okay so you’re not Irish. Well what about the 74th Annual Ukrainian Seminary Day to be held at the Saint Nicholas Picnic Grove at Primrose (outside of Minersville)? What? You don’t like bleenies and halushkie?

There is stuff going on all over the place. The Lazy Dog has live music this Friday and Saturday, Christmas Pines Campground near Auburn has a weekend long event “Christ in the Pines”, Twin Grove Campground has Christmas in July, Frackville will entertain Alvin and the Chipmunks in the park, Hawk Mountain features a Butterfly program, Tuscarora State Park offers a hike along the lake, I mean the variety does not end!

I’ll tell ya what I’m gonna do. Let’s see how good this blog is working. The first person to call me this week and tells me that you read the blog and you want a Schuylkill County Fair Pass, I will give you two passes. The rules? You can not be an employee here at the Bureau, and you can not be one of our Board of Directors. Call me during regular hours, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first one that tells either Donna or Mark that you read the blog and want to claim your tickets, then you are the winner! Easy as that. We will tell you how you can pick up your free fair passes. Now the challenge for you .. find our phone number. And messages on our machine don't count. You have to speak to a live body here.

Let’s just see how good this new website and blog thing really is!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Welcome to Schuylkill County

Well it is finally here. Our Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau Blog has been launched. Now our challenge is to make our new website more interesting, as well as interactive for our visitors from near and far.

Since the new site just launched earlier this week, I am asking website visitors to participate in the monthly poll featured on our landing page. Our first poll seeks to get a handle on just how often our website visitors actually travel to the area. We know that local residents use the website for event information, while our visiting public is more interested in local lodging and dining opportunities. Whatever your reason for checking out the website, please take the time and take the poll each month.

But hey, it’s the middle of the summer of 2008 and people have been busy around here. I visited the Pioneer Tunnel yesterday, and they report that their numbers are up. The Yuengling Brewery tours? Visitation is up! Do these increasing numbers have anything to do with the heat lately, and the fact that people are looking for “cool” ways to escape the warm temps? Are gas prices having a negative impact on the local tourism trade? We have several indicators suggesting that business is doing pretty well locally.

So I am asking you the fans of the Visitors Bureau to let me know if gas prices are having a negative impact on either your business, or your travel itineraries. Talk to me.