Hecklerfest shows off the past at L. Salford farmstead
Pam DiFabrizio helped out with last year’s Hecklerfest, but counts demonstrating candlemaking this yHDr DV WHH firVW WLPH VHH RIfiFLDOOy volunteered.
“I walk here all the time with my dog,” said DiFabrizio, whose home neighbors the 36-acre Heckler Plains Farmstead on Landis Road in Lower Salford. “I love this place.”
Hecklerfest, which re-creates a fall harvest festival from earlier days, has been held since 1975, Joan DiMaria, president of the Heckler Plains Folklife Society, said.
This year, it was on Saturday, Aug. 25. Activities included candle dipping, Scherensnitte (scissor cutting paper), quilting, tin punching and Colonial cooking. Attendees could also tour the house. Pies were baked in an outdoor bake oven.
Alyson Girton, of Harleysville, said her family attends Hecklerfest each year.
Her son, Ben, who is about to begin fourth grade at Oak Ridge Elementary School, said he’s not sure how many candles he’s made at Hecklerfest over the years, but it’s “a lot.”
The children have also used tin punching learned at Hecklerfest to make Christmas presents, Girton said.
“We have some of them on our Christmas tree every year,” Ben said.
As participants took turns dipping wicks into wax, then walking a circle to allow it to dry before returning for another layer of wax, DiFabrizio said that in earlier days, people making candles would make a lot at one time, not just one, because of the length of time involved in doing the job.
“Aren’t you glad you don’t have to make light like this?” she asked a youth at the demonstration.
“Walmart’s a wonder,” he replied.
Justin Weikel, who is entering 10th grade at Souderton Area High School and who was helping out with the candlemaking demonstration, said he’s volunteered previous years at Hecklerfest, including last year when he peeled apples.
“My parents volunteer here and they bring me. I just like it. It’s fun,” Weikel said on why he volunteers for Hecklerfest.
Sandy Zimmerman, of Quakertown, cooked chicken corn soup RvHr D firH, ZHLOH HHr HuVEDQG made sausage.
“We also have bread, but it didn’t get done in the middle, so I put it back in the oven,” Zimmerman said.
The bread was kneaded in a large wooden bread trough.
“It’s over 100 years old,” Zimmerman said. “It was used mainly for big groups.”
Vendors and craftspeople at this year’s Hecklerfest included “The Acorn Lady,” Mary Caruso, of Telford.
Caruso said she began making necklaces and bracelets out of acorns about two years ago while working on activities at Souderton Mennonite Homes.
“I started picking them up just to clear the sidewalk,” Caruso said, “and I said, ‘I’ll use them somehow.’”
All the acorns are locally grown and there are different shapes and colors, depending on the tree, she said.
“I crawl around on the ground like a squirrel and then I pick them up,” Caruso said.
“I dry them outside if the weather’s nice. If not, I dry them in the oven,” she said.
“I have a hard time keeping squirrels away from my drying racks, though,” Caruso said. “Now I have a cat to chase the squirrels away. I didn’t last year.”
Heckler Plains Folklife Society and the Lower Salford Historical Society host Hecklerfest.
“The farmstead dates back to a land grant from William Penn’s three sons,” DiMaria said.
In 1718, Han Reiff purchased the site, which later was transferred to Peter Freed, then Freed’s son-in-law George Heckler.
“It became known as Heckler’s Plain because of the geography here. It stayed in the Heckler family until the 1920s,” DiMaria said. “Now it’s one of the Lower Salford Township park sites.”
Admission to Hecklerfest was free, but donations were being accepted for a planned replacement of the barn roof.
“There’s some structural work that needs to be done and a general replacement of the entire roof, so it’s a huge undertaking,” DiMaria said. “We’re going to be applying for grants, but we need a leg up on our funds as well, so that’s what all the proceeds from Hecklerfest are going to go toward.”
Clarissa Pillon discusses 18th century housewifery with Mark and Jeanie Baskin during Hecklerfest.
George Vinter Sr. shows Cole Jones a game from the 18th century during Hecklerfest.
Lewis Hill, of Milford Township, heats up a piece of iron to work into a decorative hook at Hecklerfest.