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Our 2024 resolutions + Farm Show mobs & Dry January

Plus, a Pa. native's TikTok triumph.

Welcome to PA Local, a free weekly newsletter about the great people, amazing places, and delicious food of Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Spotlight PA staff

January 5, 2024
Inside this edition: Farm fresh, TikTok triumph, angry at the Eagles, map out, Dry January, best buds, and New Year's resolutions we haven't broken yet.

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A Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show returns this weekend with a new mullet contest, a new butter sculpture, and lots of media-hungry livestock.

How many people are expected to attend the weeklong event? 

A. 5,000
B. 50,000
C. 250,000
D. 500,000

(Keep scrolling for the answer, but don't miss all the good stuff in between. Like what you read? Forward this email to a friend.)

Our five favorite Pennsylvania stories of the week.

» One story worth cheering: A Bethlehem native went viral on TikTok for a confession: “What’s up? I can’t read.” The self-taught reader is celebrating reaching his goal of 100 books by the end of 2023.

» One meltdown worth watching: Frustrated by the Philadelphia Eagles’ performance in their last few games? This Eagles fan is too, and she went viral for her reaction to their loss against the Arizona Cardinals.

» One map worth seeing: An $18 map from a State College company features hundreds of Pennsylvania state parks, trails, and whitewater spots. It's billed as the "most comprehensive" map of its kind.

» One challenge worth trying: If you're alcohol-free for Dry January, try this sober festival in Philly, these Pittsburgh mocktails, or visit any of Pennsylvania's "dry" towns, many dating back to Prohibition.

» Two friends worth adoring: A 7-year-old Bucks County girl went all out for her 100-year-old best friend’s birthday, showing up to the World War II veteran's house on a firetruck with a long line of well-wishers

🏆 NEXT QUESTION: Stay on top of the news this week? Prove it with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: 2024 anxiety, minimum wage wave, 14th Amendment, and state lawmakers get a raise.
The top stories published by Spotlight PA this week.
» Officials fear Pa.'s not ready for 2024 election misinfo

» Why the Pa. legislature is off to a slow start in 2024

» Inflation eroding Pa. support of key universities

» What research says about anxiety and medical marijuana

» Ex-DEP chief is now a fracking-focused blogger
Fireworks against the night sky.
(Photo crazyad0boy / Flickr)

It’s a new year, so you know what that means — time to set resolutions. 

Sure, one study shows that 92% of people who set goals on Jan. 1 won’t follow through. But we here at Spotlight PA aren’t immune to believing we’re part of that rarified 8% who look to the future and turn their intentions into reality. 

Below, members of the staff share their personal and professional resolutions for the year.

Stephen Caruso, Capitol reporter

Professional: Do not allow national narratives and rhetoric around the 2024 election to influence what I cover on the state level unless there is a direct impact on Pennsylvanians.

Personal: Find the best pork belly in Philadelphia. Learn how to do crow pose.

Angela Couloumbis, investigative reporter

For journalism: Zig when they zag. Stop talking and listen. Listen again — and again. Improve someone's life through your journalism.

For outside of journalism: Read. Write. Think. Walk. And don't forget to stretch.

Colin Deppen, newsletter editor

In 2024 I want to finish paying off my mortgage. I want to drink less soda (the odds are low). I want to visit someplace in Pennsylvania I've never been before (Jim Thorpe?). I want to let go of grievances. I want to do more things that scare me. I want to make more time for friends.

Elizabeth Estrada, democracy editor

2024 will be my first full year at Spotlight PA and I'm excited to explore more of Pennsylvania and connect with our partners and readers in-person as I work on election-related events and collaborations throughout the year. I hope to build new partnerships as well, especially with bilingual outlets and community organizations that serve Pennsylvania's diverse Latino community.

Outside of work, I plan to experiment with new creative hobbies, specifically pottery and quilting. While very different, both crafts seem to offer a fun, meditative quality, which I think will be incredibly satisfying (and needed) as we enter what is sure to be an intense election season.

Sarah Anne Hughes, deputy editor

This year, I will get far enough on my original musical to present at least act 1 at the Harrisburg Fringe Festival. I will stretch regularly and sit in my desk chair while working rather than lounge on the couch. I will teach my new rescue dog basic commands. I will spend more time with the people I love. 

Stephen Kearse, assistant editor

I hope to get two short stories published and learn to swim.

Ed Mahon, investigative reporter

Solve the Rubik's Cube (inspired by my son's friend, who I think can do it in less than a minute), finish the novel Lonesome Dove (inspired by my sister), and compete in a York Story Slam (inspired by my former editor Scott Blanchard, who told an amazing tale at York's Grand Slam in November).

Danielle Ohl, investigative reporter

My resolutions are to finally brew my own kombucha and to be able to finish harder climbs at my gym.

Yaasmeen Piper, events coordinator

In 2024, I want to get more into movement, yoga, pilates, etc., and make my cats get along!

Jeff Rummel, news developer

Read 70 books and log each one in a book journal.

Tanisha Thomas, newsletter writer / reporter

Attend at least one or two journalism conferences and travel out of Pittsburgh for a PA Local story.

Our favorite reader-submitted photo of the week.
Over the state Capitol with @yatsko. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
A bird flying over the gilded dome of the state Capitol.
The answer to this week's Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.

The correct answer is D. 500,000.

Pennsylvania's Department of Agriculture expects big crowds over eight days. If you're planning to join them, PennLive has guides on what’s new and how to navigate through it. The show runs through Jan.13.

Thanks for reading. We'll see you back here next week.

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan & nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism that holds the powerful to account and drives positive change in Pennsylvania.

Copyright © Spotlight PA. All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
PO Box #11728
Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728


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