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Announcing the 73rd Kutztown Folk Festival

by Kutztown Folk Festival

Announcing the 73rd Kutztown Folk Festival

The Kutztown Folk Festival was founded in 1950 and is the oldest continuously operated folk-life festival in America.  Located at the Kutztown Fairgrounds, 450 Wentz Street, the nine-day event will run this year from July 1 through July 9 for its 73rd year.

The festival is recognized nationally for its authentic Pennsylvania German culture, including food and culinary experiences; music and five stages of entertainment; and authentic folk-life demonstrations by traditional craftsmen who travel from the middle of the U.S. and up and down the East Coast.

This year, festival organizers are proud to report that the Kutztown Folk Festival ranked #2 in USA Today’s 10 BEST Readers’ Choice poll. It has ranked #3 in past polls, so moving up in the ranking is noteworthy!

“This year’s Folk Festival is a must see! We have new offerings such as our new History Trail honoring our Festival’s rich past, glass blowing and blacksmithing demos, onsite workshops to learn how to make herbal vinegars, hex sign painting, and more. New this year is our Backroads and Barn Stars motorcoach ride through the countryside with Patrick Donmoyer of the PA German Cultural & Heritage Center as our step on guide. We even offer axe throwing on opening weekend, July 1 & 2nd! It is bound to be a great and educational time for visitors of all ages,” announced Heather Zimmerman, Festival Director.

The World-Famous Quilt Barn is a popular draw for visitors, from inside and far outside the region, who enjoy the exhibit for days before attending the Annual Quilt & Barn Star Auction.  This year, the Auction will be held on Saturday, July 8, at 12 noon.

The Visitors’ Quilt, a longstanding tradition, allows children and adults to try their hands at stitching a quilt square with the option of signing their squares—Each year, quilters finish the Visitors’ Quilt and display it the following year.  In 2022, 20 years’ worth of Visitors’ Quilts were exhibited.  “It’s common for visitors to return in hopes of finding their square from years past,” noted Cyndi Hershey, Quilt Education and Development Director.  There is also a Children’s Quilt.

Find up-to-date information on all things Quilts, as well as new and returning activities in the Quilt Barn at https://www.kutztownfestival.com/quilts.

Culture, entertainment, and education are all aspects of the festival.  On the Seminar Stage, you may find these features coming together in a Liar’s Contest, an American Folk Tradition, or a PA Dutch Language Contest, or even a student Essay Contest.  A solid scholarship side emerges on the Seminar Stage from daily presentations, for example, on the History of the PA Dutch, the History of the Folk Fest, Pow-Wowing, or the History of Barn Stars—all researched and presented by local authorities.

Many members of the Reading-Berks Guild of Craftsmen participate in the festival as vendors.  This year, some of the juried craftspeople will take the stage to share their expertise and demonstrate their skills, which harkens back to the early days of the festival when demonstrations, including butchering, were innovative.

PA Dutch Foodie favorites like funnel cake, apple dumplings, corn pie, pot pie, or shoefly pie are found everywhere on the fairgrounds, including one reservation-only food experience called Country Kitchen or the popular Ox Roast.  Near the Ox Roast, located close to the College Blvd. Gate of the Folk Festival, visitors will find Fresh Fest Market. For a second year, vendors will offer healthier food options, local craft beers, and specially crafted cocktails prepared with local ingredients.  Educational presentations, kids’ activities, and light entertainment on the Fresh Fest Stage will enhance this newer experience for visitors.

GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, Reading, PA, presents GoggleWorks on the Go.  Visitors will explore a complete suite of mobile studios and programs with renowned artists who will showcase and teach techniques to visitors on a rolling schedule in stimulating art forms.  Stained glass, wood carving, glass blowing, printmaking, big hand embroidery, and bookbinding are some of the interactive demonstrations. An interactive, cross-disciplinary glassblowing experience for beginners, youth, and families is called You Create, We Make!  Beginners, including children and their families, can imagine and sketch their own glass sculptures, picking up pointers and supplies at our supervised “art cart” kiosks.

The event runs 9 am-6 pm daily.  Ticket options include daily, weekly, mid-week, weekend, Veteran, and Student. Admission is free for children 12 and under.  Advance ticket purchase is recommended, so purchase tickets securely online at https://kutztownfolkfestival.thundertix.com/.

For some, it’s tradition.  For others, it’s food.  For others, folklife or family.  Whatever the festival is for you, you will find it bringing you back year after year.

Visit https://www.kutztownfestival.com/to explore all the Kutztown Folk Festival has to offer, as well as sponsors, and employment and volunteer opportunities.