Folk Festival is so much fun, you don’t have to work at it
Those familiar with the Pennsylvania Dutch, its language, folk art and social habits will enjoy this week’s Kutztown Folk Festival as much as newbies — it’s a chance to reconnect with the Dutch roots. More than 200 artists are available (many demonstrating their work) throughout the festival. Between the noisy hammers, steam whistles and saws it’s sometimes a challenge to hear the kids begging for a whoopie pie or birch beer.
Some tourist spots are so complicated, crowded and confusing it becomes work. This festival does the work for you.
Kutztown’s 67th annual Folk Festival continues through July 9, including the July 4 ceremony and parade. The festival opens daily at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. during the week, and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Cost is $14 for adults, $5 for age 13-17. It’s about 70 minutes to Kutztown Fairgrounds, beyond Reading. For more information, click here.
According to its website, the festival is the oldest continuously operated folklife festival in America. It’s been featured on National Geographic twice. For a town smaller than York County’s Red Lion, that’s certainly worth bragging about. They do it right.
Officials expect up to 150,000 people for the event. Look for hex signs, candles, glass blowers, photography, jewelry, pottery, and woodcarvers. Don’t miss the broom makers, tin workers, wheat weavers, quillers, soap makers. On the grounds, expect the typical fair food like lemonade, hot dogs, and burgers and fries, sometimes with a local twist. Look for sweet potato fries, funny cake, hog wings, pot pie, potato filling and macaroni and cheese (with stewed tomatoes, of course).
At the festival center is a children’s area with a hay bale maze, a very loud but not obnoxious steam whistle, a school house, a music tent and tiny church. Under another tent is a mini-barnyard with llamas, goats, geese, ducks and a very docile turkey. Lectures about the old life and reenactments of an Amish wedding, music, and storytelling will keep the kids busy. The children’s stage features stories, puppets, and “Marty’s Miraculous Flea Circus”. Speaking of fleas, dogs on leash are welcome here. Bring yours, it seems everyone does.
The quilt barn is a favorite for all, even if you can’t afford one of these masterpieces ($100-1,400 or more). More than 1,300 quilts are on display and the auction begins Saturday, July 8.
On the Fourth of July, be at the festival by 11:30 a.m. for the parade and a special holiday ceremony.
Even if you miss the holiday festivities, there’s still plenty of food to eat, hay bales to jump, art work to be amazed by. And maybe a quilt to hold onto for those cold winter nights.