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12th Annual PA German Zammelaaf celebrates PA Dutch language, culture in Berks

About 300 people came out for the 12th Annual PA German Zammelaaf to celebrate the PA Dutch language and culture at the Midway Diner in Bethel on March 16.

Sponsored by the Pennsylvania German Zammelaaf organization, the free event included traditional PA German crafts and artists, old-fashioned toys, PA German children’s songs and stories, PA German food for sale, a silent auction, speakers, and performances of PA German music by Mike and Linda Hertzog and Die Schwadore Schalle choral group.

“The Pennsylvania German Zammelaaf (“Zammelaaf” means “social gathering”) is all about preserving and promoting Pennsylvania Dutch history, language and culture,” said Scott Nye of the Pennsylvania German Zammelaaf organization.

This event replaced the Pennsylvania German Heritage Festival which previously had been held for 16 years at Harrisburg Area Community College’s Lebanon campus.

“The Pennsylvania Dutch have always been a significant group of people in the great melting pot that is Pennsylvania, and we’re here as much for those of their descendants who are interested in history, language, and genealogy as we are for our neighbors of other backgrounds who appreciate the contributions the Pennsylvania Dutch have made which continue to endure in our lives here in the 21st century,” said Nye.

Mike Emery spoke on the topic of Pennsylvania German gravestones to a crowded room during the 12th Annual PA German Zammelaaf held at the Midway Diner in Bethel on March 16. (Photo courtesy of Mary Laub, Pennsylvania German Zammelaaf)
Mike Emery spoke on the topic of Pennsylvania German gravestones to a crowded room during the 12th Annual PA German Zammelaaf held at the Midway Diner in Bethel on March 16. (Photo courtesy of Mary Laub, Pennsylvania German Zammelaaf)

The Pennsylvania German Zammelaaf organization hopes that the event’s speakers inspired attendees to learn more about the world of their ancestors and/or the history of the PA Dutch areas of the state and country that we now live in.

Mike Emery spoke on the topic of Pennsylvania German Gravestones and Rev. Dr. Harry Serio spoke on the topic, Spirituality & Folk Traditions of Pennsylvania Germans.

PA German music was performed by the ‘Die Schwadore Schalle’ (The Swatara Sounds) choral group.  Additional entertainment was provided by Mike and Linda Hertzog who performed songs in Pennsylvania German.

The choral group Die Schwadore Schalle, The Swatara Sounds, organized by Alice Spayd, far right at the podium, sang songs in PA German. (Photo courtesy of Mary Laub, Pennsylvania German Zammelaaf)
The choral group Die Schwadore Schalle, The Swatara Sounds, organized by Alice Spayd, far right at the podium, sang songs in PA German. (Photo courtesy of Mary Laub, Pennsylvania German Zammelaaf)

“Attendees enjoy hearing familiar songs sung in the dialect, and from the singers’ vantage point at the front of the room, you can see many members of the audience smiling and even singing along with the group,” said Nye. “The learning activities which are designed for the children in attendance are also a lot of fun for the young-at-heart as well. For some, it’s fun to immerse yourself into another time and place, and this is one of those events that let you step into a world other than your own, if only for a short time.”

PA German children’s songs rhymes and stories were provided throughout the day by Mary Laub of the Pennsylvania German Zammelaaf organization.

“We hope the attendees were entertained by a day that was packed with dialect songs and children’s activities,” said Nye. “We hope some attendees will learn from the books from our society vendors that they took home with them, and crafts from the artisans in attendance, many of whom have a mission to preserve and promote their crafts that is similar to ours.”

There were five societies, five vendors, and four demonstrators in attendance.

“And we hope many took the opportunity to enjoy the great Pennsylvania Dutch-style cooking at the Midway Diner,” he said.

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“The PA German dialect (Muttersprooch”- mother language) is always a big highlight of the Zammelaaf,” continued Nye. “Our conversation table provides an opportunity for speakers and non-speakers alike to spend some time hearing and practicing Pennsylfanisch Deitsch with fluent speakers.

Sharing the dialect with children and adults through the children’s activities is a way to pass the language on to the next generation. The dialect will always be with us when there are people who can hear a word and smile because they know it’s a Pennsylvania Dutch way of saying something,” said Nye.

The Pennsylvania German Zammelaaf organization would like to thank everyone in attendance — all of the vendors, performers, and all of their neighbors who came out to spend the day with them. They would also like to thank Trainer’s Midway Diner for once again being such a gracious host.

Next year’s Zammelaaf will be held on Saturday, March 15. The location is to be announced later. The Zammelaaf also sponsors the annual Grudsau Lodsch fer Yunge (Groundhog Lodge for Youth) which will be held on Feb. 1, with a snow date of Feb. 8, the location is also to be announced later.

Visit the PA German Zammelaaf Facebook page for more information.


Source: Berkshire mont

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