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Knowing what best represents folk culture came natural for Amanda Richardson when she took on the task to organize the Heritage Harvest Fescht Sept. 22 at the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center, Kutztown University.
Richardson, her husband, Keith, and Patrick Donmoyer worked to bring the best of Pennsylvania Dutch culture to life, a feat made much easier since having a connection with the Reading-Berks Guild of Craftsmen and the Old Time Plowboys.
Despite threatening storm clouds, 561 attendees turned out to sample a simpler way of life. It was a steady stream of people touring the farmhouse to catch demonstrations of lace making, harp music, rug braiding, spinning, and the baking of an onion pie on an open hearth in the kitchen.
There was an even bigger crowd lined up to go through the summer kitchen, eager to sample old-fashioned, home-made, hearth-baked sauerkraut.
Bob Bolger, Krumsville, was among the attendees checking out making sauerkraut by hand and making homemade butter.
“I like to look at the old tractors and they like to look at the artsy stuff,” said Bolger of his wife, Betty, and daughter, Amy.
KU students Erin Joyce, anthropology, and Jenny Passante, sociology, wanted to experience the culture. They also thought the pot-bellied pigs were adorable.
Kim and Hoppy Miller, members of the Pot Bellied Pig Clug, brought several of their pets to perform on teeter-totters, toot horns, run through a tunnel, and to just have fun with kids.
Activities for kids included painting faces on pumpkins, crafting colorful baskets, tractor rides, and a performance of pot-bellied pigs wearing bonnets and pearls.
“I like everything you do here and it’s so awesome to be here,” said Maisy Kellum, 7, Kutztown, as she worked on her basket. “Sometimes my grandpa comes and he chops wood.”
Maisy especially loved the crafts and considers herself to be a craftsperson.
Jean and Cliff Huntington, Wayne, N.J., have been coming to the festival for a number of years. Now they bring their grandsons, Leaf and Hunter. They like the whole environment and that it’s not commercialized; it’s just natural.
Rev. Willis Heckler, Topton, and his wife Sylvia attend a lot of events like this one. “The conversation in the car on the way home is what did you learn today? Because if you didn’t, we’re not going back,” said Rev. Heckler.
This trip, they learned from the cooper even though they already knew something considering themselves old Pennsylvania Dutch.
In addition to the activities and tours, there was entertainment by the Williams Duo. Sarajane on harp and Ted on guitar. There was also Pennsylvania Dutch music performed by Keith Brintzenhoff.
Patrick Donmoyer, author of “The Friend in Need: An annotated Translation of an Early Folk-Healing Manual,” gave presentations. He had discovered a rare book someone had attempted to burn in a fire but was pulled out and rescued. The book turned into a two and a half year project of translating the work of a famous author in Berks County named John George Hohman. This book had pre-dated his most popular works on Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Healing which had not been out of print in over 200 years.
“You’ll find prayers and benedictions that are used for healing and for protection. You’ll find recipes for different rituals and different methods for being able to both protect, to heal, and also to avoid danger,” said Donmoyer.
Donmoyer’s book gave a little more insight to the Pennsylvania Dutch culture from over 200 years ago.
For more information about the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center, visit www.kutztown.edu/pgchc.
See more pics on D6.