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Plain ol’ family fun: Kutztown Folk Festival offers a trip back to low-tech times

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STORY BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
bbingaman@21st-centurymedia.com
@brianbingaman on Twitter

Now in its 67th year, one of the oldest, continuously running folklife festivals in America returns July 2-10.
The Kutztown Folk Festival celebrates Pennsylvania Dutch culture with 200 juried folk artists and traditional craftsmen; quilts; live music; dancing; folklore presentations; traditional Pennsylvania Dutch foods and desserts; a farmers market; antiques and collectibles; a petting zoo; a children’s play area; a children’s stage with puppet shows and storytelling; pony rides and a horse-drawn carousel; a hay maze and more.
This year, there will be a one-room school house experience, presented by the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University and longtime festival historian Darlene Moyer.
That sounds like throwback fun.
The school house will be set up with a school bell, desks, wood stove, blackboard, writing slates and other artifacts that would have been found in the period of one-room school houses. “School marms” (teachers) will present several lesson throughout each day of the festival, geared towards visitors of all ages. Visitors will also be able to view materials related to the history of one-school houses, as well as the history of the school system in Pennsylvania.
Will the festival’s wine tour be back?
Yes. Included in this year’s festival wine tour is Chester County’s Paradocx Vineyard, and Long Trout Winery and Frecon Farms Cidery from Berks County. Necture on the Vine will bring wine frapes and slushy wine beverages to try, plus non-alcoholic versions. Blue Mountain Vineyard out of Lehigh County will have two of their varietal selections labeled with a special edition 2016 wine-themed festival logo. Fest-goers can follow the self-guided tour via the festival map included in the complimentary program booklet.
Beer will also be available.

A craft demonstration at the Kutztown Folk Festival. Submitted photo

A craft demonstration at the Kutztown Folk Festival.
Submitted photo

When is the quilt auction?
July 9 at 1 p.m. on the Main Stage. Prices usually average around $2,800, but in previous years they have sold for as low as $1,000 to drawing as high a bid as $15,500.
During the week, the more than 2,000 quilts on sale in the Quilt Barn range from $600-$1,200.
There’s also a Festival Visitors Quilt, which you’re encouraged to try your hand at quilting.
Where is the festival located?
The Kutztown Fairgrounds are at Wentz and White Oak streets, Kutztown.
What’s the admission price?
$14, $13 for seniors 55+, $5 for youths 13-17, free to children 12 and under, $24 for a weekly pass. There’s a downloadable coupon for $2 off adult and senior admission at www.kutztownfestival.com. Note that it’s cash only, except at the gate at 225 N. White Oak St., which will accept credit cards.
What are the hours?
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 2-3 and 8-9, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 4-7 and July 10.
What do you mean by traditional crafts?
Blacksmithing, weaving, woodcarving, metalworking, paper cutting, pottery and Redware, basket making, crochet, chair caning, soapmaking, tinning, broom making, bonnet making, treenware and tole painting.
Is the schedule the same every day?
Sort of. Click on the calendar tab at www.kutztownfestival.com.
Will there be fireworks for the Fourth of July?
No, but they do hold what they brag about as “The Hokiest Parade in America” on July 4.
Are pets allowed?
Yes. They need to be leashed, and you should come prepared to clean up after them. There’s even a designated pet walking area.
Is the festival a rain-or-shine event?
In the event of rain, everything is either held inside or under large tents.
Why do I keep smelling bread?
There’s a 19th-century bread oven, that still works. You can observe the baking process, then buy bread to take home.
What exactly are Pennsylvania Dutch foods?
Some of the festival favorites include sausage, pot pie, corn fritters, funnel cake, shoo-fly pie and apple dumplings. There will also be full-course, all-you-can-eat Pennsylvania Dutch family-style dinners, as well as homemade soups and sandwiches.
Why the heck is there a gallows? That’s creepy!
It’s one of the entertainment stages. One of the festival’s traditions is a program called “The Hanging of Susanna Cox.” In 1809 Cox, an uneducated domestic servant, was accused of murdering a baby she had out of wedlock. But because she only spoke Pennsylvania Dutch, she had no way to properly defend herself in court and she was executed in Reading.
Where can I go for more information?
Refer to the website or call (610) 683-1597.

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