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Experience the best of Dutch PA culture during the Kutztown Folk Festival

Founded in 1950, the Kutztown Folk Festival is the oldest continuously organized folklife festival in America. Generations of families, artists, musicians, crafters, quilters, entertainers, scientists and purveyors of iconic foods and dining experiences are drawn to a festival nationally recognized for its authentic Pennsylvania German culture.

The Kutztown Folk Festival is a winner in the eyes of many, including a winner in the 2024 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Award Contest for best cultural festival. The festival has been among the top of this category for years.

Of course, food is a big draw for all ages! PA Dutch Foodie favorites like funnel cake, apple dumplings, corn pie, pot pie or shoe fly pie can be found throughout the fairgrounds, including a reservation-only dining experience called Country Kitchen or the popular Ox Roast. Near the Ox Roast, close to College Blvd. Gate of the Folk Festival, visitors will find Fresh Fest Market. Healthier food options, local craft beers and specially crafted cocktails made with local ingredients are typical fare in this area.

Food isn’t the only draw, so is music, five levels of entertainment, the seminar stage, the petting zoo, the antique barn, the Lester Miller Family Dancers, authentic folk demonstrations by traditional craftsmen and the Quilt Barn. This list does not yet include everything there is to see and do during the nine days.

The world-famous Quilt Barn houses approximately 1,200 traditional quilts prior to the annual Quilt & Barn Star Auction. This year the auction will take place on Saturday, July 6 at 12 noon on the Main Stage. According to Cyndi Hershey, Quilt’s director of education and development, “All quilt styles are welcome, both rich traditional and fresh modern”. Queen and king size bed quilts, baby quilts, holiday quilts and quilted wall hangings are typically on display for visitors and auction bidders.

Hershey shares that hand quilting demonstrations will continue, and new this year will be demonstrations of machine piecing, appliqué and quilting. After all, education is an essential part of the Quilt Barn experience. “We offered our first quilting classes this winter with a variety of topics at the Kutztown Historical Society. The participants seemed very engaged and gave positive feedback. We hope to offer classes in the fall and at other locations.” For quilt information, visit: kutztownfestival.com/quilts.

Culture, entertainment and education are seamlessly integrated during the festival. On the Seminar Stage you may encounter these features in a Liar’s Contest, an American Folk Tradition, or a PA Dutch Language Contest, or even an Essay Contest for students. On the Seminar Stage, a solid scholarly side emerges 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 published authorities.

Traditional demonstrations are part of the daily program. One such demonstration involves Eric Claypool, a second-generation folk artist originally from Berks County. Eric, Patrick Donmoyer, director of the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center, and Andrew Shirk paint the Barn Stars that will be auctioned on the second Saturday. Eric, whose father painted hexagonal signs starting in 1964, painted his first hexagonal sign in 1979 and has since painted more than 100 barns.

The event takes place daily from 9am to 6pm. Ticket options include daily, weekly, midweek, weekend, veteran and student. Admission is free for children aged 12 and under. It is recommended that you purchase tickets in advance, so purchase tickets securely online at kutztownfolkfestival.thundertix.com.

With so many traditions, activities and experiences for all ages, the Kutztown Folk Festival keeps old customs alive while building new memories for returning and new visitors.

Located at the Kutztown, PA Fairgrounds, 450 Wentz Street, the nine-day event will take place June 29 through July 7 for its 74th year this year. kutztownfestival.com