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Third Annual Penn Dry Goods Market Hit Among History and Textile Buffs
Written by Kelly Kalb Correspondent

Guests at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center's Penn Dry Goods Market, held last Friday and Saturday at the Pennsburg museum, were able to browse a variety of vintage textiles and related antiques offered for sale by 22 dealers.

        For those with a passion for history through textile design, or just an overall interest in clothing through the eras, the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center was the place to be May 15 and 16.

        The center, on Seminary Street in Pennsburg, hosted its third annual Penn Dry Goods Market this past weekend with much success.

        Visitors from as far away as Tennessee, North Carolina and the Midwest, as well as local residents, attended lectures on varying topics related to textile history. Lecturers spoke on their expertise with German textiles, symbolism in quilt making, fashion from the romantic era, slave clothing, World War I quilts and costume design for MGM's "The Wizard of Oz."

        Each lecture provided detailed information in a particular area given by an expert in their field.  There was a $25 fee per lecture.

        Not only were lectures provided during the two-day event, but an antique show and sale also brought in a crowd for a small admission cost.

        Twenty-two antique dealers from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland came to display and sell some of their items.

        Candace Perry, curator of collections for the Schwenkfelder, explained the event, "We were really looking for a creative idea for a fundraiser. This is our third year now. Our audience for an event such as this is generally women who have great enthusiasm for textiles and hearing lectures from knowledgeable experts."

        Perry noted on the opening day of the event (Fri., May 15), approximately 200 people entered the building either for lectures or just to walk through the antique show. Last year, Perry said, $14,000 was raised from the event that is typically used for general operating support for the library and heritage center.

        While textiles was the main focus, antique dealers such as Neverbird Antiques of Virginia traveled to display some of their items. Neverbird primarily handles 18th and early 19th century needlework and folk art, historical books and documents as well as miscellaneous smaller items.

        Another dealer present for the event was Tex Johnson and Son Antiques of Adamstown, Pennsylvania. They specialize in primitives, furniture, textiles, folk art and children's items.

        Regardless of a person's interest in antiques, there were notable dealers present to show their items and sell to interested parties. Antique items ranged in price from under $100 to over $10,000, depending on the historical significance and value.

        Dianne Cram, site administrator at Peter Wentz Farmstead in Worcester Township, said the event was a "fabulous opportunity to come to learn about and see a wide variety of antique needlework, tools, and related objects."

        Perry noted visitors to the Penn Dry Goods Market event are typically seeking out the lectures on specific topics but, with many walk-ins, the antique show proved to be a hit as well.

        "I come from Colorado just for the Schwenkfelder, the lectures and the show. It's just fantastic!," Dawn Cook Ronningen of Colorado remarked.

        Perry is hopeful the event will become more successful each year as it is a main contributor to the overall operation of the library and heritage center. The Schwenkfelder  would also like to see more local community involvement since the event does bring in business to area hotels, restaurants and gas stations.

        Advertisement for an event such as this does cost money, Perry said, with Channel 39, WLVT, being a new advertising venue this year.   The center also advertised in several niche publications, which also adds up, she said.

        For more information on the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center as well as upcoming exhibits and events, visit their website at





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