You are here

Festival History

In the summer of 1950, three of America's leading folklorists presented the first Kutztown Folk Festival using a unique hands-on approach that let "outsiders" experience firsthand what it means to be part of a Pennsylvania Dutch family. Key to the event's success was the ability of the festival's "founding fathers" to organize the area's local citizens and coordinate their participation in the festival. These were not actors, but actual Pennsylvania Dutch natives demonstrating their everyday way of life.

Generation to Generation

Nearly 25,000 people descended on Kutztown that first year. What started as a four-day showcase during the Fourth of July week quickly grew to nine days drawing well over 130,000 attendees. Multiple generations of the same families continue to present and participate at the festival; likewise, many generations of attendees visit the festival each year.

Fun, Food & Pageantry

Today, one can still find traditional craftsmen at the festival demonstrating the skills and tools that helped build this great country. Farming and folklife demonstrations abound throughout the grounds. The phrase "eat till ya ouch" still has great meaning as fabulous Pennsylvania Dutch food continues to tempt visitors. The sounds of square dancing jiggers and folk music fill the air, while children try their hand at many of the activities geared just to them. Of course, the pageantry and symbols of Pennsylvania Dutch culture such as quilts and barn stars still catch the eye of all who attend.