Community members cruised along country roads and stopped at an arts festival for Kutztown Community Library’s Country Cruise and Albany Arts Fest in Kempton on Saturday, Oct. 2.
“I think a lot of people have felt confined to their homes and this is a way to get out and enjoy yourself,” said Kutztown Community Library Director Janet Yost. “Personally, I like all the fun places to eat and get ice cream. Especially interesting on this tour is the Albany Arts Fest with several phenomenal artists.”
A self-guided driving tour through picturesque Albany and Greenwich townships, the Country Cruise offered a 30-mile route featuring 18 sites of interest including covered bridges, historic churches and stops at 10 local businesses, as well as Albany Arts Fest.
“We wanted to be able to have a fundraiser where patrons could social distance but also have fun and support the library,” said Jacqueline Sharayko, library assistant director. “Every stop on the tour is located in the library’s service area. This provides an opportunity to be introduced to our local treasures while promoting nearby businesses.”
Participants could spend the day cruising to various tour stops including Setter Ridge Vineyard, Dietrich’s Meats & Country Store, The Nesting Box, Dixon’s Muzzleloading Shop, Kempton artist Jon Bond’s studio, BAD Farm, Kempton Hotel, WK&S Railroad, Country Line Orchard and Wanamakers General Store.
Friends Diane Paxson of Bernville, Kathy Hengen of Shillington and Kay Williams of Shillington like seeing different places and often participate in local tours.
On the Country Cruise, they visited Dixon’s, drove through two covered bridges, toured a local cemetery, met Verna Dietrich at Dietrich’s Meats and spoke with artist Jon Bond at his studio. They liked learning local history and driving along the country roads.
“It’s a nice day to travel,” said Williams. “There were a few surprises that were nice.”
New Event Supports Library
Organized by the Library Board and fundraising committee, the cruise raises funds to support programs at the library.
Ernest Angstadt of Kutztown participated in the cruise to support the library, as well as see the Historical Society headquarters and woodwork by artist Luke Voytos.
“I like seeing all the different bridges, the churches and it’s all stuff that I’ve seen but it’s nice to read the history,” said Angstadt, referring to the tour’s guidebook.
The idea for the cruise stemmed from a brainstorming session on fundraising within the uncertainty of the pandemic, said Barbara Coffin, vice president of Library Board of Trustees.
“This seemed like a really good idea because people could be outside and a lot of the things that we have on the tour are things that people don’t ordinarily know about,” said Coffin. “People are enjoying it; it’s a great day for it.”
While the library will not be hosting its traditional holiday house tour, there will be a Kutztown holiday church tour in early December, she added.
Coffin hopes the cruise will become an annual event. She was also glad the library could link with the Albany Arts Fest.
Showcasing Work by Local Artists
One of the stops on the Cruise was the Albany Arts Fest held at the Albany Township Historical Society headquarters.
Lucy Muth, president of the Historical Society and president of the Library Board of Directors, said that knowing both events were being planned she suggested the library host the cruise on the same day as the festival. She hoped linking the two events together would bring more people out to both, exposing more people to both the library and the historical society.
Located in the 1917 Trexler Grain & Feed Warehouse in Kempton, the Society headquarters houses a museum of local artifacts and offers open space for community events.
Berks artists Ron Imboden of Stony Run and Mark Amey of Lenhartsville organized the Albany Arts Fest.
In the past, Albany artists participated in the Hawk Mountain Arts Tour, displaying their work in their home studios or host locations on a self-guided driving tour in Albany Township, but the tour was not held the past two years due to COVID restrictions.
“What motivated me to get together with my friend Mark (Amey) was that we try to do our own thing and one thing led to another and that’s how it grew into this Albany Arts Fest,” said Imboden, a retired Kutztown art teacher and a farm life watercolor artist. “(The Historical Society headquarters) was just a good match.”
As board member of the Historical Society, Amey helped facilitate the use of the society’s building for the Arts Fest.
“It’s a beautiful day and everybody’s here so we’re just really thrilled about it,” said Amey, who creates functional wheel-thrown stoneware.
In addition to Imboden and Amey, the festival featured Rose Fritch, jewelry; Luke Voytos, woodwork; Anna Shiffler, Daily Loaf; Gene Allen, acrylic art; Lisa Gauker, fine art prints; Joshua Steffy, handmade hats; and Jeanne Stock, pastels.
Historical Society treasurer Lisa Jeffery of Kempton said it’s wonderful to bring people together with art and locally made crafts.
“It’s an opportunity to see our friends that we haven’t seen in many months due to COVID,” said Jeffery.
Festival patrons Christiane Torchia of Center Valley and Nancy Jo Mulry of Macungie came out to see their friend’s artwork on display, Jeanne Stock. They like the diversity of the festival.
“I think it’s a great venue,” said Mulry. “It shows off everything beautifully.”
“And the ride here was spectacular,” added Torchia.
“(The response has) been excellent. It’s been a nice steady flow of anywhere from 18 to 20 people (throughout the day),” said Imboden, estimating about 250 total attendees. “Due to the overwhelming attendance, we have decided to make this an annual event.”
Next year’s Albany Arts Fest is set for Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022.
Source: Berkshire mont