Folk Fest opens with surprise thunderstorm
Festival continues with Pa Dutch food, demos, seminars, family fun through July 9
The 68th annual Kutztown Folk Festival opened on July 1 with sunny skies but by that afternoon the storm clouds rolled in followed by a severe thunderstorm chasing attendees to buildings and pavilions at the Kutztown Fairgrounds on July 1.
“We’ve had a nice crowd despite the weather forecast so we’re really pleased and especially with the outlook as well,” said Festival director Steve Sharadin. “We’ve had a lot of pre-sale tickets this year and we think it’s going to be a really great year. I think the fact that we’re a Pennsylvania Dutch themed folk festival (brings people back every year). That’s what we’ve always been and we continue to be conscious of that.”
The festival features Pa Dutch food, crafts, vendors, Quilt Barn, live entertainment and more.
“It’s an educational event as well as entertaining, so I think (visitors) get something here that they don’t get at any other festival,” said Sharadin.
Among the educational aspects of the festival are the seminars.
Leroy Brown, 92, Topton, presents a seminar entitled Life of a Dutchman, talking about his personal life growing up on a farm in Dryville, just outside Kutztown, learned how to speak English when he went to school in a oneroom school house, “No one on the farm talked English,” and how he served in the military, married, had children and worked at Caloric Corporation and ran an an-
tique auction center for 10 years, saying he had a busy life but a good life which he credits as the secret to his long life, keeping busy.
“I just want people to know that a Dutchman’s life is no different than theirs is,” said Brown while waiting his turn in the seminar tent. “Everybody has an interesting life. I fought in WWII, I fought in the Korean Conflict... I was a former Seal. I’m just an ordinary guy. I’m glad I’m Dutch.”
The Festival continues until July 9. Hours are July 6 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and July 7 and 8 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“We have a few new features that we’re real excited about.
“We have the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center and the Mennonite Heritage Center, both from Montgomery County. They’re going to be doing a Fraktur display,” said Sharadin.
The PA German art form is a style of lettering and folk art commonly seen on birth and marriage certificates between 1740-1860, explained Sharadin.
Visitors can try their hand at creating their own Fraktur in the Festival’s schoolhouse.
“We also have one of the biggest portable steam engines ever made, (the 20,000-pound 1910 Case, Model-75 Steam Traction Engine) down in our farming and agricultural demo areas, chugging away on wood fire, powering some of our antique equipment,” he said.
There is also an expanded hex sign display put on by the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center in Kutztown.
“You’ll get to see examples of some early hex signs and some of the most popular early hex sign painters as well,” said Sharadin.
Another new attraction is the 19-piece Shippensburg Blaskapelle German Brass Band performing on July 8, with rolling beerdrinking songs, traditional melodies and lively polkas and waltzes.
For a full list of attractions, visit www.kutztownfestival.com.
Leroy Brown, Topton, waiting his turn in the seminar tent on opening day of the 2017 Kutztown Folk Festival on July 1. Brown’s seminar was entitled Life of a Dutchman. More festival photos on page B8.
Festival visitors had the opening to contribute their own quilting skills to a quilt at the Kutztown Folk Festival on July 1.
Merry go round at the 2017 Kutztown Folk Festival.
Root beer wagon at the Kutztown Folk Festival at Kutztown Fairgrounds on July 1.
Children’s puppet show on opening day of the 2017 Kutztown Folk Festival at Kutztown Fairgrounds on July 1.