Has anyone noticed how Labor Day Weekend has become the biggest weekend of the year in the Poconos? Memorial Day gets the attention because it’s the start of summer, July 4 gets the love because of the fireworks, but poor old Labor Day just kinda hangs out and sneaks up on us, and we’re usually pretty depressed because it’s the end of summer.
But around here, no tears. We’ve got a ton going on this weekend in your Pocono Weekend Fun Guide:
Saturday is the annual battle of the festivals — Stroudfest vs. Garlic Fest. I went ahead and made #battleofthefests a Twitter hasghtag if you’re interested. No? OK then. If you’re not familiar with the recent history, Garlic Fest used to be a downtown Stroudsburg mainstay until it started losing money around 2007 or so. So Garlic Fest asked Stroudsburg for the ability to charge visitors to come in, but Stroudsburg doesn’t have that ability or authority. You can’t charge people to walk on a public street, or keep people off it who don’t pay. So Garlic Fest took off and went to Shawnee Mountain, private property where the festival can charge admission, go for two days and can sell beer — the three things they were looking for. It’s been clear sailing since then for one of the Poconos’ quirkiest events. If you want to get discount tickets, you still can until 4 p.m. today. If you’ve never been, here’s a good idea of what you can expect:
Stroudsburg realized how much it would suck for its businesses to lose the chance to entertain the 5,000 people or so that traipse through the downtown for Garlic Fest, so Sherman Theater biz whiz Rich Berkowitz and some of the other merchants came up with Stroudfest in 2007. The festival is dedicated to music of all genres, with different stages set up through town with indie, rock, cover bands, kids music and jazz. There are three stages this year, at the courthouse, in front of Brite Cleaners on Main Street and across from the Sherman Theater on Main Street. Main Street Jukebox also has a show at 7 p.m., which is about the time Stroudfest wraps up, just to keep things going on. Then it’s 9, and we can all start drinking, if we haven’t already. The best news out of all of that is both festivals have not just survived, but thrived. I’m not even sure if there’s any bad blood anymore, I remember some hurt feelings on both sides when it was going down. there is no big headliner this year like Blue Oyster Cult last year, but I think I like it better that way. Let’s stick to local bands that need the push. Blue Oyster Cult probably doesn’t get an extra 100 people downtown that wouldn’t be going anyway. So unless it’s a semi-big name — and BOC just isn’t anymore — local is probably the way to go.
The West End Fair keeps going this weekend too, glad to see they had great weather this week. They got rained out and powered-out for almost the whole thing last year.
Mount Airy wants in on the Labor Day act with a full weekend of stuff to do. Tonight the casino is doing a “Boxing Under the Tent” thing, because no matter how you slice it, outdoor boxing is cool. It just is. Don’t ask me why. Kinda like the NHL’s Winter Classic is cool or playing basketball on an aircraft carrier is cool. Everyone likes to shake things up sometimes. The casino is putting off its normal Friday fireworks to Saturday, then having a carnival on Sunday and Monday from noon to 6 p.m. I’ve been to carnivals in some crazy places, but I don’t think I’ve ever been to one at a casino. Although I used to go to the Luzerne County fair when it was at pre-casino Pocono Downs when I was a kid.
If you read my story in this morning’s paper about the battle between WNEP and DirecTV and the very real possibility that the local ABC affiliate could be taken off the air for customers of the satellite company, umm, please disregard. Got an email at 1:30 a.m. this morning the negotiations resulted in an agreement, with WNEP’s parent company, Local TV LLC, agreeing to a new deal with DirecTV. Still waiting for confirmation from WNEP, just to be sure. Now if we can only get AMC and Dish Network to stop their bickering, everything will be hunky-dory.
Speaking of ABC, Labor Day weekend usually was reserved for the MDA Telethon, but now it’s only going to be a three-hour special from 8 to 11 p.m. Sunday. The MDA dumped long-time advocate Jerry Lewis in the last year, and instead of going all weekend, now we’re just left with this three-hour thing. I say this every year — I used to love the telethon. In those early and mid-80s, there was nothing on TV after, like, 1 a.m. Except for the telethon. It was the one day a year as a kid I actually looked forward to staying up late because there was actually something on instead of gray fuzz. My friends and I used to have sleepovers based on it. I understand why they went to a three-hour special, and I haven’t watched the thing intently in 20 years, but I’m still sad to see it go.
After Siamsa on Main Street opened its upstairs for a new martini bar last week, Pocono Brewing Company in Swiftwater is trying something new starting Wednesday for its upstairs area above the back dining room. It plans to open “Canz Upstairs,” a room dedicated to craft beers in cans. The room will be open for all NFL and college football games Saturday, Sunday and Monday through the winter. I know there’s the new trend of making craft beers in cans, but I don’t get it. I don’t think they taste any better, and I’d always much rather drink out of a bottle than a can. Then again, I didn’t get the whole craft beer thing in the first place, but now I’m a fan.