Folk Fest opens with sur­prise thun­der­storm

Fes­ti­val con­tin­ues with Pa Dutch food, demos, sem­i­nars, fam­ily fun through July 9

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa Mitchell lmitchell@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @kutz­town­pa­triot on Twit­ter

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.kutz­town­fes­ti­


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.

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