Category Archives: Pennsylvania Dutch Culture

Kutztown Folk Festival

I try to make an annual pilgrimage to the Kutztown Folk Festival where our region’s Pennsylvania Dutch history is celebrated. The festival began in 1950 and it is pretty extensive. It is known for its amazing quilt barn ( this year’s winner posted above), food, crafts, and exhibits on PA Dutch life.

This year, I took my older set of twins with me. They really enjoyed the one room school house which you can still see in use throughout the Pennsylvania countryside, although they are primarily used by the many variations of plain communities (Amish, Mennonite, River Brethren, etc…).

I also enjoyed the historical farmstead exhibits. The boys helped make apple butter, watched men bale hay, saw period tractors in action, watched glass blowing and listened to music.

There was explanation on the symbology behind hex signs, which were originally found on the side of barns. These designs were rich in meaning and often were used for protection ( of the barn, livestock and crops), fertility ( the land, not the farmers), etc…Here is a detailed link all about hex signs:

There was also an extensive exhibit on Pow Wow, the practice of Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Magic. You can learn more about Pow Wow here:

We attended a period church service (Protestant)

We also visited the breathtakingly beautiful quilt barn. All of the quilts are available for sale and most are handmade. There are volunteers there to take any quilt you would like to further inspect. There is also a quilt along that visitors are welcome to join.

There are many animals 

And games without electricity 

The Kutztown Folk Festival is famous for food…a concentration of Pennsylvania Dutch dishes are offered by local groups such as churches or social groups (Granges). There are so many things to try…schnitz und knepp ( ham with dried apples and dumplings),  corn soup, birch beer, potato dumplings, roasted corn. Lebanon Bologna sandwiches, stuffed pretzels, chicken bot boi (chicken with noodles), homemade lemonade, mint tea and of course,funnel cakes.

 A fascinating read about PA Dutch cuisine is William Woys Weaver’s, “As American as Shoofly Pie.”

We really had a wonderful time!