As a transplant to the Lancaster County area here in Pennsylvania - or rather, PA - I’ve picked up on a few tips and tricks over the last couple of years to avoid being seen as a tourist when looking to blend in with the locals.
First and foremost:
Pronounce the county as Layyn-CASTER, being sure to drag out the a in “caster.” Hey, you’re probably from California, Ohio, South Carolina or one of the many other states with Lancasters around the country that are all pronounced this way, so why should you listen to anyone who corrects you with Lane-kiss-ster? Hershey is a neighboring town and the company is known for its Kisses, but that’s a non-issue where you’re concerned.
2. There are over 37,000 Amish living in Lancaster County and you’ll often see them selling produce in Lancaster’s downtown Central Market. You’ll definitely want to whip out your camera to snap a photo and show your friends back home that you saw a bonafide Amish person. You might hear that pictures of the Amish where faces are recognizable are against their beliefs or that it is simply disrespectful to capture Amish in photography, especially without their permission, but you might never see another Amish person and you’ll certainly want to remember with photographic evidence.
3. Speaking of the Amish, Lancastrians absolutely love when you assume everyone in the county is Amish just because many long-time Lancaster families likely did originate with Amish or Mennonites. The area is known as “Amish country,” after all, so there couldn’t possibly be anyone else, right?
4. You’re cruising down the roads of the county and what shows up? A cow. You’re so stunned by this cow you have apparently never seen in any other place that you must make sure to pull over, get out of the car and take a picture of the cow. You’ll likely end up doing this with other farm animals, as well -- especially if it’s something really peculiar, like a horse.
5. Inform residents of Lancaster City that they do not live in a real city. Bonus points if you are from New York, Los Angeles, Boston or Chicago. Further bonus points for noting what a cute town it is, especially in relation to your overcrowded and tourist-jammed streets that are lacking in Lancaster City. Since you are fully aware of real traffic, don’t forget to consistently mention this fact whenever locals have the gall to bring up traffic on Duke or Prince.
6. Question whether Lancaster County has a cultural scene. Ignore the various galleries and many eateries in the city or throughout the county, including Lititz. Skip trying shoofly pie or other local delicacies, like one of the many varieties of cuisine available in the area.
7. Bring up politics. The heavily blue Lancaster City is just dying to know what you think of their lack of a Republican mayor since 2006 and the extremely red Lancaster County is itching to hear your positive thoughts on the currently Democratic governor. But, be careful; places like Elizabethtown might lean more blue, too.
Oh and to complete your Lancastrian camouflage, you’ll definitely want to mention Philly, before you launch into an inquiry on why towns are named Intercourse or Blue Ball. Throw in a pronunciation of Ephrata as “Eephrayta,” plus an attempt at saying Caernarvon and you’re golden.
** Please note everything in this post is satirical. It is highly advised that you follow none of the above and in fact, endeavor to do the exact opposite.**