Ru­ral PA Dutch Farm­ers and their work ethic Part 2

Ge­orge Adam’s fes­ti­val crew prac­ticed PA Dutch folk­ways, learned on area Dutch farms

The Southern Berks News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Richard L.T. Orth Colum­nist Richard L.T. Orth A Look Back In His­tory

In at­tempt­ing to set up ru­ral farm ex­hibits and props, Ge­orge Adam had a fes­ti­val crew that prac­ticed PA Dutch folk­ways, learned on area Dutch farms.

Like Mr. Adam, many of our ru­ral Dutch farm­ers still pos­sessed the fron­tier “work ethic” at­ti­tude that was ac­quired from hard­work­ing Amer­i­can an­ces­tors clear­ing fron­tier lands in or­der to build a barn and home in which to sur­vive, and Dutch­men his­tor­i­cally have a healthy at­ti­tude to­ward work, not be­ing sat­is­fied un­til the task is done! It is in this pi­o­neer at­ti­tude handed down gen­er­a­tion after gen­er­a­tion cou­pled with their hu­mor­ous out­look on life that is cu­ri­ously and com­mend­ably unique about Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch peo­ple.

I have al­ways ad­mired the pos­i­tive work ethic of peo­ple like Carl Sny­der, Ster­ling “Tiny” Zim­mer­man and Ge­orge Adam who all shared in a whole­some at­ti­tude to­ward work mak­ing it more fun than drudgery. Their will­ing­ness to talk to a young “whip­per snap­per” like me and af­ford their friend­ship had made life more en­joy­able to me, and many oth­ers.

In the later years of the Kutz­town Folk Fes­ti­val, Doc Shoe­maker wanted to im­ple­ment grange farm­ers and church groups, play quoits and other type games in or­der that tourists might mix and en­gage in these in­for­mal games. In turn, they could ex­pe­ri­ence the whole­some and amus­ing at­ti­tude of our Dutch peo­ple which is gen­uine, not show­cased in an ex­hibit, and just as im­por­tant a trait of the folk fes­ti­val.

Re­mem­ber the Amish Barn Dance photo in re­cent col­umn? Since Ge­orge was also an ex­cep­tional butcher, he took pride in the culi­nary ex­per­tise of granges and Church groups who made the folk fes­ti­val fa­mous for PA Dutch foods. It was this pride in crafts­man­ship that Ge­orge ex­pected of him­self and all his farm hands who demon­strated our Dutch her­itage for the tourists. He was an easy go­ing per­son al­ways will­ing to ex­plain our eth­nic folk­ways, but en­joyed good hu­mor, as well, like pin­ning a pig’s tail on a part­ner’s over­alls while butcher­ing.

Over the years, Ge­orge Adam and lo­cal PA Dutch­men, who were fa­mil­iar with farm build­ings and ap­pa­ra­tus, set up the Kutz­town Folk Fes­ti­val Com­mons for many years with a one-room school house, church, smoke­house, and a tav­ern which was at first called the “Old Plow Tav­ern,” and later Ida Bond’s tav­ern, named for a farm tav­ern in Al­bany Town­ship all fea­tured in my col­umns over the years. But more ger­mane to Ge­orge Adam was a butcher shop in which the Adam fam­ily demon­strated butcher­ing, his av­o­ca­tion pre­vi­ously pic­tured.

Dressed in his farm­ing over­alls and a straw hat, he wore ev­ery day on the farm, Ge­orge hauled the sheaves of rye grain to build the Fes­ti­val’s huge grain stack in the mid­dle of the com­mons. Some years it took 600 sheaves un­til Ge­orge placed the United States flag on top of it, and un­for­tu­nately, the rare early Amer­i­can thatched roof cider press was no longer as­sem­bled in later years.

Also of cir­cum­stance, since the Kutz­town Fes­ti­val is largely run by the Kutz­town Univer­sity, the farm­ing work-ethic of lo­cal na­tives has been re­placed by con­tem­po­rary univer­sity stu­dents. Lee Kern, a na­tive farmer from the Mertz­town area, at last check con­tin­ues to demon­strate agrar­ian folk­ways on the Kutz­town Com­mons with his daugh­ter Lucy pro­vid­ing fun­nel cakes and root beer from a Con­estoga Wagon on the far end of the grounds! She, her dad, and hus­band dis­play the true grit PA Dutch farmer, but over­all, there is no longer the wor­kethic trait that once drove Ge­orge Adam and other Dutch­men to build an im­mense grain stack out of 600 sheaves of rye cut by an old-time binder, topped by our United States flag,

and the vi­sion of Dr. Shoe­maker fad­ing.

Hav­ing seen Ge­orge Adam over this 9-day event for about 17-18 fes­ti­val over the years, I had miss his smil­ing face that al­ways met me in a good dis­po­si­tion. And the thing most men­tioned to me by oth­ers when they ap­proached Ge­orge, or in need of a fa­vor, which ul­ti­mately in­volved work for him or his fes­ti­val crew his work-ethic at­ti­tude was al­ways pos­i­tive.

Dick Shaner also re­marked Ge­orge of­ten came up with a so­lu­tion that was bet­ter than his or Doc Shoe­maker’s and that he en­joyed work­ing to­gether with Ge­orge and cel­e­brat­ing our dy­namic PA Dutch her­itage. “Hav­ing a stake-body truck, he helped me take large props back to my farm in Rock­land Town­ship where he was very pop­u­lar with lo­cal Dutch farm­ers.”


Ge­orge Adam (with a lead flag), a pop­u­lar Dutch­man from the Kutz­town area leads the 4th of July pa­rade with his folk fes­ti­val crew, who has been set­ting up ex­hibits on the Fair­grounds Com­mons ever since he be­gan help­ing Dr. Al­fred L. Shoe­maker since 1951. His work-ethic crew: Paul Adam, Roy Kline, Terry Winesteigert, Troy Adam, and his grand­daugh­ter, Roy­lene march in the 1970 event to crown the grain stack with the United States flag.

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