Beating sun couldn’t stifle Kipona

Popular city fest drew fewer people

than usual on Labor Day, but turnout was good

By Chloe Zimmerman

Special to The Knightly News

HARRISBURG –The city’s Kipona festival was a hit over the Labor Day weekend, despite heat reaching 90 degrees Sunday during the annual culture and arts gathering that drew crowds of people downtown.

Even so, with the thermometer needle in the red zone and high humidity bringing some rain, fewer people attended on Monday than usual, city Communications Director Matt Maisel said.

Because people can enter Kipona from anywhere along Front Street downtown, or City Island via the Market Street or Walnut Street bridges, no city agency estimates the number of attendees, but Maisel said that tens of thousands surely attended.

Image courtesy City of Harrisburg

The heat and humidity – not unusual for the Lower Susquehanna Valley during early September, but bothersome nonetheless – drove people to find cool spots along the eastern bank of the Susquehanna River, and on City Island.

Between visiting arts-and-crafts booths and listening to live music, many people found respite in the shade of the ample blooms of large leafy trees lining Front Street’s Riverfront Park, where Kipona – which means “along sparkling waters” in Native American language – is held. 

Dog owners did the same to give pets a break from the sun.

Vendors shuffled cold sweet treats, such as ice cream and slushies, to lines of sweating people. 

Hot-food vendors were not as busy.

Entertainers chugged water immediately after their performances. 

The Native American Powwow, held for the 25th year on City Island, was an amazing experience for the many people who attended. Visitors watched participants dressed in traditional Native American costume perform dances and other rituals in the heat. Native art and food were available. 

Some artists set up tents to protect themselves and their artwork from the sun. 

Other artists used trucks to store their art, allowing visitors to come inside and look around, using the trucks like a store.

Fair-goers and artists, artisans, musicians, food vendors and others persevered – and perspired – enjoying themselves during this last-hurrah celebration of summer.

Zimmerman is a Central Penn corporate communications major.

Comment or story idea? Contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.

Edited by media-club co-adviser and blog editor Professor Michael Lear-Olimpi.