A showcase of Pennsylvania Dutch culture is finally making a comeback.
For the first time since 2019, the Kutztown Folk Festival will be held in its true form – with a host of family-friendly activities, shopping opportunities, seminars, food and more – from July 2-10 at Kutztown exhibits.
Here’s everything you need to know about the popular party’s return:
What: The Kutztown Folk Festival is the oldest continuously operating folk life festival in America. Like most large-scale festivals, the pandemic has forced the Kutztown Festival to go virtual, both in 2020 and 2021, with an online quilt auction and store, contests, taped musicians and demonstrations of craftsmen and craftsmen.
When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, July 2 to 10
Where: Kutztown Fairgrounds, 225 N. Whiteoak St., Kutztown
How much: Admission is $16 for adults; $6 for students (13 to 17); free, children 12 and under; $40 for a weekly pass. Online ticketing is encouraged. Credit cards are accepted and encouraged at all doors.
Car park: Free
Accessibility: The Kutztown Folk Festival is ADA approved and wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs and scooters are available for hire. Advance reservations are highly recommended. Call the Kutztown Area Transit System at 610-683-3012.
Can I bring my pet? Pets up to date with their vaccines are allowed. All pets must be leashed and cleaned up after at all times.
Something new is coming to the festival this year.
The Fresh Fest Market will feature vendors offering healthier food options, local craft beers and specially crafted cocktails made with local ingredients. The market will be held in a designated area on the fairgrounds, known as The Grove. You will also find educational presentations, activities for children and entertainment.
- My cup of Herb Farm tea: a small farm in Mertztown, focused on using sustainable growing practices to grow high quality garden seedlings, potted plants, succulents, cacti, houseplants and cut flowers. facebook.com/MyCupofTeaHerbFarm
- Haven Farm Table: cheese and “Cheese Chats” for those who want to know more. Havenfarmstead.com/
- Three wood fire: Fresh wood-fired pizzas, using local basil, heirloom tomatoes, fresh local mozzarella, local pepperoni and roasted garlic oil.
- Eight Oaks Farm Distillery: Farm to Glass Distillery near New Tripoli
- Saucony Creek Brewery: craft beer
- The Kutztown Produce Shack, fresh fruits and vegetables
- The Nesting Creamery, farm-fresh eggs and artisan ice cream sandwiches
In addition, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary staff will be on hand to educate and entertain on the Fresh Fest stage. They will have a live bird of prey with them and you can learn about the adaptations and natural history of raptors.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without all the delicious, decadent Dutch food to eat until you need to nap.
Some of the highlights:
- The country kitchen: Here’s your chance to enjoy an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch meal with the “seven sweets and seven flavors” tradition, all cooked on a 1920s wood stove. Attendees can enjoy meals cooked in the country kitchen during a 45-minute historic cooking presentation and a meal limited to eight people per day. (Seating is at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. daily). The presentation is followed by a multi-course family meal served in the country kitchen. The daily menu will vary among many traditional specialties such as roast pork, baked ham, baked chicken, schnitz and knepp, ham and green beans, chicken pot pie, dumplings, lettuce with a warm bacon dressing, pepper cabbage, cottage cheese and apple butter, red beaten eggs, chow-chow (pickled vegetables), fresh bread, fruit pies, apple cobbler, rice pudding and tea mint, to name a few. How much: $20 per person, kutztownfolkfestival.thundertix.com/ (Note: This is a potential sale.)
- Roast beef: During five selected days of the festival, you can watch 800-pound Black Angus beef slowly roast on a specially designed, open-air, rotisserie-like roaster. The famous Ox Roast sandwich will be available during the nine days of the festival.
- Dietrich’s fresh meats and treats: Come sample Dutch meats, baked goods and other delicious foods at the Dietrich Festival Farmer’s Market. They are famous for their smoked meats and baked goodies that follow generations-old Dutch recipes. Among the baked goods, you’ll find shoofly pie (both traditional and chocolate); strawberry rhubarb pie, lemon sponge pie, funny cake and funeral pie.
- The festival oven: If you have ever been to this festival, you have already smelled the delicious smell of baking bread. The Festival Baking Oven offers mouth-watering baked goods while giving you a glimpse back in time into traditional outdoor cooking techniques.
- Corn Pie: The Kutztown Fire Co. will be back with their famous pies – personal-sized double-crust pies stuffed with a creamy corn medley.
The Quilt Barn is a must.
It’s a place to enjoy a stunning array of over 1,500 beautiful handmade quilts and wall hangings in every color and size imaginable.
The quilts, available for purchase, range in size from king-size to crib, and many are made by local Mennonite women. The annual quilt auction will take place at noon on July 9th.
In addition to the festival’s five entertainment stages, you can:
- Take part in an old-fashioned “cake walk”
- square dance
- Watch a comedy show
- Enjoy the sounds of the traveling sauerkraut band and two 19th-century “improvised” marching bands
- Watch the dancers of the Lester Miller family, who are made up of four generations of hoedown dancers
- Enjoy the 4th of July Folk Festival Parade
Along with these activities, the festival is full of fun for children. The Children’s Farmyard Theater will feature puppet shows, caroling, story time, magic, a ventriloquist and more. Children can also enjoy the craft and play areas.
The petting zoo is always popular, where children and adults can feed and pet the farm animals. This year there are additional hands-on activities for children including puppet making, more music to sing along to and drawing barn stars.
At the seminar stage, you can learn about the Dutch dialect, traditions, hexagon signs, etc. The festival works closely with the Kutztown University Pennsylvania German Heritage Center, as well as educators in and around the university.
Speaking of history, you can attend a re-enactment of the “Hanging of Suzanna Cox”. This is a dark chapter in local Pennsylvania Dutch history.
The 30-minute reenactment centers on Cox, who was sentenced to death for killing her baby. (There’s a dummy in the noose, of course.) Cox was arrested, and after a day-long trial, she was convicted of murder and hanged in the last public execution of a woman in Pennsylvania. The crowd at the hanging in what is now City Park in Reading was estimated at around 20,000.
If that’s a bit too dark for you, you can also attend an Amish wedding, learn about early farming techniques, or take part in a country auction.