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Harrisburg’s Kipona festival gets a new twist

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For the past 98 years, Harrisburg’s Labor day weekend festival, Kipona, has been located solely on Front Street… but that’s changing this year.

Harrisburg Mayor, Eric Papenfuse, announced Friday that the festival will be split between City Island and River Front Park.

It’s a new twist to the festival which stands for “sparkling water”.

The Susquehanna River, will run right through it.

Not only is Kipona a Harrisburg tradition, but one for Judy Kinney and her family as well.

“We’ve lived in the area for 35 plus years so we’ve been coming to Kipona for almost that long.. since the beginning I guess!” says Judy Kinney, from Mechanicsburg.

The Kinney’s welcome the change and so do businesses who will benefit from the new activity on City Island.

“There’s no question about it. It definitely helps just like the baseball, if someone comes to the baseball game, they might not know we’re here. If they walk around they might not have time to play today but they will play next week or next month,” says Water Golf on City Island owner, Jeff Paklovic.

The move across the river isn’t the only change. Instead of Front Street closing here at Forster, it will now close here at Locust Street down to Walnut… leaving a larger portion of Front Street open for traffic.

“It’s going to help with traffic congestion, it’s going to help residents get around, it’s just going to be a lot easier,” says Mayor Papenfuse.

Another new addition Papenfuse is touting, is the parking.

“Parking is free, and ample and accessible. It’s going to be easy to come down and enjoy this and it’s going to be available for the entire family and I know there’s a lot of concern about that but we’ve gone out of our way to make sure people have free parking for the whole festival,” says Papenfuse.

Besides reorganizing Kipona, Mayor Papenfuse says this year’s festival is going in the budget.

It’s something that hasn’t been done before and as a result he says there hasn’t been a lot of accountability.

“In the past these festivals in the past have gone over 100,000 dollars and that is not something the city can afford to do any longer,” says Papenfuse.

The three day festival starts August 30th and will cost the city $37,500.