Festing on the Fourth

Though tomorrow is July 4th, Independence Day here in the U.S.A., the Kutztown Folk Festival opened today.  Kutztown is pronounced ‘kootz-town’.  It is a celebration of the Pennsylvania Dutch and German heritage with folk crafts and good German/Dutch food such as white birch beer, bratwurst, knocwurst, shoo-fly pie, apple dumplings and best of all – FUNNEL CAKE!

Funnel cake, for those who do not know, basically is dough that is deep fried in hot oil, laid on a paper plate and liberally sprinkled with white powdered sugar!  Delicious!  Fattening!  and who cares!!??!!  Not me!

Another big part of the Festival is the Quilt Barn where hundreds of beautifully hand quilted bedspreads are offered for sale.  Here are some photos of my favorites.

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I was particularly enamoured of the Phoenix Quilt and the pink/white/green one that looked like it had ribbons on it.  The quilter started the center stripes narrowly spaced and progressively increased the space between the ‘ribbons.’  It was amazingly beautiful.  The amount of time and attention to detail that goes into each of these quilts is beyond words and the prices, I thought, were more than reasonable.

The hubster and I are particularly blessed because his sister is a quilter and has made each of the family members a quilt.  Talk about an unbelievably wonderful gift.  I treasure the quilt she made for us.

We watched a demonstration of an Amish wedding.  The actor who was the “bishop” was not completely accurate in his dress because he had a mustache.   When the Amish sect was started, the members of the higher ranked military wore mustaches as a mark of honor and rank.  Thus, Amish do not wear mustaches, only beards, as a statement of their pacifism.

We watched an old train engine go down the street.

The most interesting thing was watching a sheep shearing!

I wish I had gotten closer to get better pictures.  The gentleman speaking is a sheep shearer who learned the trade from his father who learned it from his father. He showed the ‘old fashioned’ way using a hand cranked shearer, then the electric shearer and the shearing scissors.  His son, who is following in his father’s footsteps, did the demonstration.

At first I thought he was using a stuff animal to demonstrate because the sheep was so calm and just lying there, but no!  It was real!  And very big!  My gosh!  She weighed about 150 pounds.

I did not know that for the wool to be worth anything, it must be sheared in one piece.  The underbelly is not high quality wool and thus is used for felt and other items that are not made into clothing and such.  I learned that there are only 26 shearers in the State of Pennsylvania to shear all the sheep in the State, as well as parts of New Jersey and Delaware.  They shear only in the spring; the end of February to May.  It takes one full year for the wool to grow back on the sheep.  Also, if a sheep is not shorn, they can die from suffocation in the over grown wool because the sweat has no where to go.

The gentleman also said it can take 10 years to master the craft of shearing a sheep and one must have a very strong back due to all the leaning over one must do while shearing.  A good shearer can do one sheep in 4 minutes!

Of the whole day, that was probably the most interesting time for me.  Well, aside from the delicious German sausage sandwich smothered in onions and peppers I had for lunch!


6 thoughts on “Festing on the Fourth

  1. What beautiful quilts! Thank you for sharing this. As it is well into the 90’s here today, some of that white birch beer would be good (with a scoop of vanilla ice cream even).

  2. This is the one reason I’m sorry Chris moved from PA — I was looking forward to having an excuse to look into Amish culture, and visiting him would have provided it. Oh, well. GORGEOUS quilts, and I’m glad *one* of us lives close enough to take advantage of local opportunities!

  3. Absolutely beautiful quilts! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. 🙂 I didn’t know that the underbelly wool was used only for felt and non-clothing items. We have funnel cake down here at our historical and craft fairs, too; although I’ve never had any.

    What a great way to spend a Saturday!

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