Saturday, July 10, 2010

kutztown folk festival: a celebration of the pa dutch

As I have discussed it numerous times via this gushy blog, I am a full-blown Dutchie. My parents, who both come from PA-Dutch families, raised me in the heartland of Berks County, Pennsylvania, and I have always appreciated the classics of my native culture.

Praising the time-honored traditions of the PA Dutch seems like an appropriate task at heart, which is why I regularly make an appearance at the annual 19th-century-celebrating Kutztown Folk Festival.

A week-long fair covering traditional music, history and plenty of home cookin', the nearby collaboration also, for the last several years, has hosted my dad's bluegrass band, Blue Mountain Junction, as daily performers on their main stage.  
Also important to note, central to the festival is a gruesome history lesson, which is now legend in local Dutch culture. Each year, a group re-enacts the controversial execution of Susanna Cox, who was hanged in 1809 for killing her infant child. Festival director Dave Fooks believes in the importance of addressing the historic event. "It turns out that due to her hanging, the American appeals system began," he says. 

Although always more interested in more positive of perspectives, the festival features some seriously old-school entertainment. Costumed medicine men hawk syrups and creams, and Mennonites present a wedding re-enactment. Angora rabbit shavers are also on hand, transforming fresh fur into shawls in just minutes, as are established glass blowers. 

Of course, the menu is equally country: High-calorie eats include wurst rolls, ox roast sandwiches, apple dumplings, fried veggies and shoofly pieall which may be washed down with birch beer aplenty.

There's one day left of the fest, so saddle your horse and buggy, and blast into the rural country scene.