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Kutztown Folk Festival attendees find ways to keep cool

The backup supply of bagged ice melted away shortly after the gates opened for Day 8 of the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday.

The engine compartment of a refrigerated container truck caught on fire. It was just another potentially weather-related event to impact the 9-day festival, which concludes this weekend.

A Kutztown firefighter works to put out a fire in the refrigeration trailer that held ice at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
A Kutztown firefighter works to put out a fire in the refrigeration trailer that held ice at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Last Sunday, July 30, the second day of the festival, the gates closed a few hours early due to the threat of a powerful thunderstorm approaching Kutztown. Festival attendees who purchased a single-day pass were allowed free admission another day, officials said.

Despite warm, humid weather, the impact of Saturday’s freezer fire, which was quickly put out by firefighters, was minimal. While festival officials had to scramble to arrange another delivery of ice heading into the final day, there food and beverage vendors had sufficient ice supplies for their ice-cold beverages and snacks.

Helping guests keep cool is a priority, said Steve Hunter, vendor relations coordinator.

“It’s July in Kutztown–it’s going to be hot,” Hunter said.

There are plenty of spots in which visitors can get out of the sun and cool off, he said, including a number of tents, a large fan and the cool-off bridges. 

The latter are small replica covered bridges that drop misting water from the rafters onto the heads of those who pass under.

Kavanah Gabriel, 15, left, of Whitehall, Lehigh County, and Nathan Gammons, 15, of Kempton, cool off in front of a large fan after finishing their shift at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Kavanah Gabriel, 15, left, of Whitehall, Lehigh County, and Nathan Gammons, 15, of Kempton, cool off in front of a large fan after finishing their shift at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)
The Sauerkraut Band entertains the crowd prior to the quilt auction at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
The Sauerkraut Band entertains the crowd prior to the quilt auction at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Steve Sharadin, former-festival-director-turned concessionaire, observed that people are less tolerant of the heat and humidity than in years past. He said attendance is still struggling to return to pre-COVID levels, and this year’s gate has fallen short of expectations.

Addison Blank, 16, of Kutztown, squeezes oranges at the Orange Drinka stand at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Addison Blank, 16, of Kutztown, squeezes oranges at the Orange Drinka stand at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)
Signage created by the late Bill Schuster of Kutztown still adorns many of the stands at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Signage created by the late Bill Schuster of Kutztown still adorns many of the stands at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Sharadin and his wife, Sue took over the Orange Drinka fresh-squeezed orange drink stand, a fixture for about 50 years, a couple of years ago.

“We stepped up and decided it needed to stay here,” Sue said.

Some of their employees return year after year, she said.

The Sharadins also have the adjacent waffle ice cream sandwich stand and a few other concession stands, many of which sell Reading Draft Birch Beer and other products bottled by Reading Soda Works in southwest Reading.

George and Katrina Peterson made the Kutztown Folk Festival their halfway stop on their way to HersheyPark with their three young children.

“We’re on our way to Hershey and we saw this was going on and it seemed like something unusual and something to check out,” Katrina said while pushing a dual stroller holding daughter Elizabeth, 6, and Grace, 4.

Katrina Peterson of Easton walks through the festival with her daughters Elizabeth, 6, and Grace, 4, at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Katrina Peterson of Easton walks through the festival with her daughters Elizabeth, 6, and Grace, 4, at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Unusual is right. They enjoyed rare treats such as a cider slushie (Katrina’s favorite) and blueberry birch beer.

Grey Castor, 4, son of Leslie Gaines and Ben Castor of Mount Penn, tries his hand at shelling corn at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Grey Castor, 4, son of Leslie Gaines and Ben Castor of Mount Penn, tries his hand at shelling corn at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Leslie Gaines and Ben Castor made their annual Kutztown Folk Festival excursion with their children, Grey, 4, and Lena, 2. Besides enjoying the refreshing drinks, the Mount Penn couple said, there is a lot to do and see for children, making the festival a nice day outing for the family.

They said this as Grey gave it his all on the old-fashioned corn sheller operated by the Old Time Plow Boys Club.

John Paul Warren of Gilbertsville crafts brooms at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
John Paul Warren of Gilbertsville crafts brooms at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

A little bit away, John Paul Warren of Gilbertsville was demonstrating the straw broom craft, surrounding by brooms of all sizes for sale, and juggling E.C. Hanna was inviting folks to sit on a bale of a straw and enjoy his next magic show.

E.C. Hanna juggles to attract a crowd for a magic show at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
E.C. Hanna juggles to attract a crowd for a magic show at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

The annual quilt action was held at noon Saturday in the Quilt Barn. All week, upwards of 1,000 quilts designed and made by quilters were offered for sale at prices set by the quilters themselves.

Select quilts were picked by judges for the auction. The first quilt, called the benefit quilt, was created in New Holland, Lancaster County, but quilted during the festival by a dozen volunteers from local church groups.

Proceeds from this year’s benefit quilt are going to help defray the extreme medical expenses incurred by the 3-year-old granddaughter of the woman who oversees the hand quilters. The girl was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor.


Source: Berkshire mont

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