The Kipona Festival and City Beautiful

One of the essential parts to Harrisburg is the Kipona Fest every Labor Day weekend. Few know how it began. In 1916, the Kipona Club, an organization of boatsmen, decided to put on some outdoor events for the local people to showcase the river culture of the city. Their president was Edward James Stackpole, editor and publisher of The Harrisburg Telegraph. The weekend included baseball games, boat races, and parades. It continued until 1921. The Kipona Club then worked for three months to revive their festival in 1936 for it to return that Labor Day weekend.

The festival was an effect of the City Beautiful movement, trying to build revenue and pride in the citizens of Harrisburg. The Kipona Club emphasizes the history of Harrisburg as a city that mainly exists because of the Susquehanna. Kipona makes Harrisburg a more attractive city to visitors and its own citizens. It helps to demonstrate the true beauty of the capital city of Pennsylvania.

            I have split this exhibit into three sections: The Purpose of Kipona, the Events of Kipona, and the Revival. They contain newspapers as well as documents from the Kipona Club. I hope to explain the importance of this festival that still brings patrons to Harrisburg today.


Sarah Wilson