People heading to Harrisburg’s Artsfest will have to pay for parking for the first time for a major festival in the city.
Crews worked to put up white tents as brackets clanged against the metal poles, the sound of a cold snap. The unofficial kickoff to summer is here as Harrisburg welcomes the first of three big parties along Front Street.
Artsfest will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. and run through the end of Memorial Day on Monday, but for the first time during a major festival people will have to pay to park downtown on the weekend.
Nicole Mount said she would take her kids every year, but the cost of parking has her thinking twice.
“It’s enough things at the Artsfest are a little expensive on occasion,” said Mount. “So, even me as a single mom, it’ll be a little rough in my decision to come here. I’ll have the money for the kids, but then I gotta have the money for the parking, too.”
Lauren Dunn said the $3 an hour parking adds up quick when you’re having fun.
“It’s expensive,” she said. “You want to come down and enjoy your day and not worry about get towed or paying a lot of money to go. I think it’s rough on the vendors, too, because it kinda hurts their business.”
Saturday hours for metered spaces began in March, on the city’s Saint Patrick’s Day celebration and parade day. Because Monday is Memorial Day, the meters are free.
Standard parking has decided to paint a better parking scenario for Artsfest.
The Market Square Garage on Chestnut and Second Street and the River Street Garage along Restaurant Row will have a special discounted rate of $10 a day Saturday through Monday.
JumpStreet, which organizes Artsfest, said parking will be available on City Island for $5.00 each day.
Rachael Miller said that is where she normally parks anyway.
“Usually, City Island is a good place to park,” she said, “walk across the bridge and go see the art.”
Thousands typically flock into Harrisburg to do just that: take in the scenery and culture. Will the added costs of parking brush people away?
“No, I think I’m going to go anyway,” said Dunn.
Many people still like tradition, even if it costs them a little more.
“Hopefully, it’ll be just as successful,” said Mount, “but I really think there’s going to be a big difference because of the parking.”