By Kaylee Lindenmuth
For Jason Garcia, KU Director of Campus Events and Programs, and his son Alex, 5, Easter on the Farm is a go-to event every year.
“It’s a great event for the community,” said Garcia. “It’s a great time. The weather’s beautiful, and it’s a perfect thing to do on a perfect spring day.”
The annual event, held at KU’s Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center on April 13, drew a crowd of over 1,000 from Kutztown and the surrounding areas. Patrick Donmoyer, the center’s director, said the event has been held at the center for more than two decades and is traditionally held the day before Palm Sunday.
The free event featured tractor rides, a petting zoo and, Alex Garcia’s favorite, two Easter egg hunts.
Alex joined a frenzy of hundreds of children who raced for eggs in the second hunt, held at 2:30 p.m., and returned with about 25 to 30 eggs.
“This is one of our best attended events,” said Donmoyer. “Lots of community members and their children come out.”
“We highlight a lot of different aspects of local culture at this event,” Donmoyer added. “Especially the traditions that Pennsylvania Dutch people introduced to this area. … Ideas like the Easter Bunny and the idea of decorating eggs.” Donmoyer said these were first introduced to North America by the Pennsylvania Dutch.
He said that the first known American image of an Easter Bunny was devised about half an hour north of Kutztown in 1810, in the area of present-day East Brunswick Township, Schuylkill County.
Easter on the Farm is one of three major events the center hosts in a year, the other two being Christmas on the Farm and Heemet Fescht in the fall, Donmoyer said. He added that the center focuses on the cultural traditions, which tie into each event.
“We aim to preserve the culture and history and language of the Pennsylvania Dutch, but we focus especially on traditions,” said Donmoyer. “We think that, especially the traditions associated with Easter, are things that a lot of people partake in but they may not think about where those traditions come from. We do our very best to help people understand the origins of some of these traditions, and also to find ways that they can incorporate those traditions in the present-day.”