The Kutztown Folk Festival, held virtually in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID restrictions, has hosted a series of in-person fall events to celebrate the festival’s return for next summer.
“We put on these fall events to let people know that after two years without a festival, we’re ready, we’re back,” said Heather Zimmerman, director of the Kutztown Folk Festival.
Zimmerman said the community response to the fall festival events has been excellent.
“People are really excited. Our comments on Facebook are that they are really happy and excited and ready to go out, ”she said.
The week’s events kicked off with the farm-to-table dinner at the Rodale Institute including a wagon ride, Blue Mountain Vineyards wine tasting, demonstrations by local artists and artisans, dinner in the barn, take out dessert and time around the campfire.
Throughout the week, the Kutztown Downtown Passport encouraged people to visit downtown businesses for a chance to win a quilt.
Other festival events included a self-guided bike tour of the Dutch Hexagonal Signs on October 16 starting at the AP’s German Cultural Heritage Center and the Art Studio Tour sponsored by the Kutztown Community Partnership on October 17.
One of the highlights of the festival is the Quilt Barn. For the week of fall festival events, a Quilt Barn pop-up store opened for in-person sales and window display on Main and Noble streets with the online quilts auction on October 25. .
The week of events ended with Square Dancing on Friday October 15 and Fall Day Fest on Saturday October 16, both held in the 200 block of Main Street.
“The Square Dancing and the Fall Day Fest went well. We had a lot of people for both events. We had a lot of people square dancing and having a lot of fun, ”Zimmerman said. “The Fall Fest was great and the turnout was strong until the rain started. We have had about four good hours and the feedback from vendors and visitors has been positive. Vendors and visitors asked if we would do this again next year because they did well and had fun.
Zimmerman said they are testing the waters to determine if the fall events will take place again in the future.
Square dance on the main street
Lester Miller and his family of square dancers, along with Keith Brintzenhoff, entertained those gathered for the Square Dancing on Main event. Community members were encouraged to dine at local restaurants and enjoy a wine and beer garden.
“We wanted people to come down and have dinner and… (spend) family time, lots of fun, go out and enjoy the beautiful night, celebrate the folk festival coming back for next year,” Zimmerman said.
Kutztown Mayor Jim Schlegel loved to watch the square dance and listen to music. His favorite part was listening to Lester Miller sing “That’s How we do it in Kutztown” to the tune of “That’s How They Do It Down in Georgia” in a square dance.
“This fall festival, to help kickstart the Kutztown Folk Festival, was a great idea not only for the Folk Festival, but also for local residents who have been locked away for almost two years during the pandemic,” said Schlegel . “It certainly helped morale.”
“I also enjoyed visiting local colleagues in Kutztown. In addition, there were students who had the chance to learn more about Kutztown. I think everyone involved had a great time, ”added Schlegel.
A mini folk festival was held along Whiteoak and Main streets, featuring artisans, artists, makeup artists, food vendors and entertainment. Restaurants and merchants in the city center were also open.
“The purpose of the Kutztown Folk Festival is to celebrate Pennsylvania’s Dutch culture and keep it alive,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said the Fall Day Fest is a reflection of the Kutztown folk festival in that it includes some of the traditional food and craft vendors who normally attended the folk festival in the past, as well as new vendors.
The Fall Day Fest also featured entertainment by the winners of the Berks Fiddle Fest, magic shows by magician EC Hanna, and face painting and crafts for children by students of the University of Arts Education Club. Kutztown, all free.
“We just want people to know that the Kutztown Folk Festival is alive and well and we’ll be back in 2022,” Zimmerman said. “We didn’t want to go an entire calendar year without any events, as we haven’t had any for the past two years, so this is a chance for us to bring everyone together and have some fun.”
The Kutztown Folk Festival has been a big part of the history of the Kutztown community, dating back to the first festival held in 1950. The Kutztown Area Historical Society had a booth at the Fall Day Fest featuring memorabilia from the folk festival. Members also distributed Kutztown related posters and sold company items such as t-shirts and books.
“It was nice to have the folk festival on Main Street,” said Craig Koller of the Kutztown Area Historical Society. “While the fairground is certainly part of Kutztown, it sometimes feels like the festival is far from the city. Having festival events on Main Street brings back some of the local flavor.
Koller said the festival began with a parade down Main Street, sharing photos from the 1954 parade, including one of the Kutztown Granges demonstrating the old-fashioned beating in a tractor-drawn wagon.
The Kutztown Folk Festival is a nine-day festival held every summer at the Kutztown Fairgrounds, featuring demonstrations of authentic folk life, Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine, folk artists and traditional American artisans, and hand-made quilts. hand exhibited and for sale, antiques and collectibles, six stages of entertainment, music and dance, and children’s activities.
The Kutztown Folk Festival is managed by the Kutztown University Foundation.
“Not many people realize that the Kutztown Folk Festival is an affiliate of the Kutztown University Foundation. Studying, celebrating and preserving Pennsylvania’s German culture is vital to KU and its surroundings, ”said Jillian Lovejoy, director of communications at the Kutztown University Foundation & Alumni Relations. “The KU Foundation is proud to support this important event and is deeply invested in its success. “
For more information on the Kutztown Folk Festival, visit www.kutztownfestival.com.