Heemet Fescht brings culture and heritage to KU

By Ryan Vanderhei

The PA German Cultural Heritage Center at KU hosted the Heemet Fescht on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 on the historic Sharadin farmstead.

Heemet Fescht is a free annual event that brings PA German heritage to life in celebration of the harvest season.

This year’s festival attracted many attendees and featured a range of entertainment options including Dutch folk life demonstrations, live animals, cultural music and food to fit the occasion.


Photo courtesy of Andrew Kutzer –   The Keystone

Demonstrations of 19th century farm culture provided a look into the past with hex sign painting, blacksmithing and hearth cooking. Also, traditional crafts of the PA Germans were created and on display for viewers to admire, thanks to The Reading-Berks Guild of Craftsmen.

Participants had the opportunity learn a lot about the past with the many presentations that took place, including an old-fashioned medicine show and one highlighting what a typical day at the schoolhouse was like.

The Mountain Folk Trio and The Blue Mountain Trio carried the cultural music at the festival and while walking around and enjoying all it had to offer. The beautiful harp playing by musician Sara Jane Williams serenaded visitors.

The Old Time Plow Boys, along with many other vendors, provided food to the festivalgoers including traditional PA German dishes like kettle corn, chicken potpies and apple dumplings.

In addition to this, as part of tradition at the festival paying homage to the heritage, guests who brought food items had an opportunity to donate them to the Harvest Home Food Drive, which has had a lot of success at the festival.

Heemet Fescht offered many options to keep the younger attendees entertained. A petting zoo featured live animals such as sheep, goats and other animals as well as free pony rides. A craft tent involving pumpkin painting, sand art and basket making gave the little ones their own taste of the heritage.

The festival also featured many different important people from the community; Darius Puff, Rachel E. Yoder, David Hoffman and Dr. William Woys Weaver, who all presented their contributions to the preservation of the PA German heritage.

Whether you are extremely interested in PA German Heritage or just a passerby, the festival offers avenues of entertainment for everyone.

A tribute to the history and culture preserved here, Heemet Fescht is a staple in the community and should continue to be so for many years to come.

The PA German Cultural Heritage center, located on Luckenbill road here on KU’s campus, is a research center and folk life museum dedicated to the preservation of PA German folk culture.

The center offers a vast research library collection, historical buildings and exhibits as well as seasonal events and many other amenities in order to promote PA German folk culture.

The center is open Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1 p.m-4 p.m. and can be reached at 610-683-1589.

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