Folk festival celebrates Pennsylvania Dutch heritage

June 23, 1991|By Dorothy Fleetwood

For 42 years the Kutztown Folk Festival has celebrated the unique culture and heritage of the Pennsylvania Dutch. This year's nine-day event opens Saturday and continues through July 7 at the fairgrounds in Kutztown, Pa.

There is so much to see that you probably won't be able to see it all in one visit. Twenty events are scheduled each day. You'll find everything from live farm animals to sheep shearing, puppet shows, a re-enactment of an Amish wedding and a one-room schoolhouse. Programs on the Main Stage will range from polka bands to Pennsylvania Dutch humor to a country auction. There will be folk-life seminars on Pennsylvania Dutch culture with information on costumes, food, music, woodworking and the lifestyles of the Amish and Mennonite people. Dancers will perform hoedowning, square dancing and jigging every hour on the hour between noon and 4 p.m., and after the show they will instruct the audience in hoedowning.

More than 200 craftspeople will demonstrate 18th and 19th century crafts. Glass blowing, vegetable dyeing, spinning and soap making are some of the skills you will see. The 27th annual Quilting Contest is another big draw with hundreds of quilts entered, many of which will be for sale. And last but not least is the wide variety of Pennsylvania Dutch food available at the festival -- all-you-can-eat dinners, dumplings and apples, potpie, funnel cake and much more.

Gates are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with activities continuing until 7 p.m. Admission for all activities, events and entertainment is $7 for adults; $3 for children under 12.

Kutztown is on U.S. 222 between Reading and Allentown, Pa. For information, call (800) 447-9269.

... The ninth annual Civil War Heritage Days in Gettysburg begin on Friday and run through July 7. Activities include a living history camp by the National Park Service on July 6 and 7, band concerts and evening lectures by leading historians.

Highlight of the event will be a battle re-enactment staged by the 63rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, Company F, next Sunday to commemorate the 128th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. It will be held at 2 p.m. near the intersection of U.S. 15 (bypass) and Route 97. An "Encampment Day" on Saturday will allow visitors to tour the camps and see demonstrations of in- fantry and artillery drills, cavalry presentations, signal corp demonstrations, a ladies' fashion show, an 1860s school and period social events.

Tickets for the battle re-enactment cost $5 per person; admission is free to children under 6 accompanied by an adult. Tickets can be ordered in advance by calling (717) 334-6245. Tickets for "Encampment Day" cost $1 per person and will be sold only at the site. Admission is free to children under 6.

Other attractions are the 17th annual Gettysburg Civil War Collectors Show and the annual Firemen's Festival.

The event is co-sponsored by the Gettysburg Travel Council, Gettysburg National Military Park and the Mason-Dixon Civil War Collectors Association. For information, call (717) 334-6274.

... The National Mall in Washington will be the stage for another major event -- the 25th annual Festival of American Folklife, which opens on Friday and runs through July 1, then resumes July 4-7. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily with dance parties from 5:30 to 7 every evening except July 4.

Each year the festival features four different themes, and this year's programs include Indonesia, the family farm, American Indians and 25th anniversary musical events.

As part of the national Festival of Indonesia 1990-'91, the Indonesian program looks at some of that nation's cultural traditions. You'll see Dayak people from Kalimantan carving masks and decorating baby carriers, Buginese sailors showing their skill at boat-building and Javanese entertainers performing gamelan music, a masked dance and "reyog" processional drama. Children can make shadow puppets or play a gamelan instrument. Wayang Kulit, an Indonesian shadow puppet theater, will offer an all-night performance from 9 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. next Sunday.

"Family Farming in the Heartland" features farmers from 12 midwestern states who will discuss the changes in farming during the last century and demonstrate farming skills and machinery. Entertainment includes a midwestern fiddlers' contest, a Wisconsin polka band and an Illinois square dance. Visitors can participate in making a family quilt, carving a wooden bowl and preserving fruit.

Members of some cultural groups native to the Western Hemisphere (Alaska, the Andean highlands of Bolivia and Peru, Mexico, Ecuador and Arizona) will examine the way various groups used their land and preserved their culture. There will be food, craft and ceremonial demonstrations.

The history of rhythm and blues is highlighted by performances of three generations of rhythm and blues musicians in the main tent. Concessions at each site will sell traditional Midwestern, Indonesian and Central American foods.

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