Rural PA Dutch Farmers and their work ethic Part 2
George Adam’s festival crew practiced PA Dutch folkways, learned on area Dutch farms
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.