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53rd Annual Goschenhoppen Folk Festival
Written by Jennifer Frieze, Correspondent

"Waste Not - Want Not" theme a thrifty lesson


The Goschenhoppen Festival Fiddlers perform at the 53rd Annual Festival.

            The 53rd Annual Goschenhoppen Folk Festival was held last Friday and Saturday with its' purpose of recreating the local past in a singular event. A reflection of a way of life.

            The event is recognized as historically accurate by the Smithsonian Institute. Books and diaries and other pieces of documentation are studied and precisely executed.

            This year's festival theme was "Verschwens net, no hoscht ken noth" or Waste

Goschenhoppen Historian member, auth-

or, and local historian Bob Wood speaks

on the value of "waste not - want not" 

during one of his straw-bale seminars.

Not, Want Not.  It can be argued that many cultures around the world have subscribed to the philosophy of utilizing everything the land and God provided. However, the Pennsylvania Germans were perhaps some of the most creative in making this statement true.

            From scrapple to souse, to tow dolls and rag dolls, the Pennsylvania Germans made good use of what was available to them. Nothing was wasted or taken for granted.

            Throughout the festival grounds on the Henry Antes plantation, visitors uniquely experience what the mantra "Verschwens net, no hoscht ken noth" means and why it was important to this group of resourceful and hardworking immigrants. The festival takes visitors back in time when building and making things meant something – including survival.

            The Antes plantation is the perfect place for such an event. Stepping into the homestead, the unique historic features are noteworthy. The craftsmanship is incredible. The solid structure and garden is to be admired.

            Throughout the grounds, visitors explore and learn a variety of techniques that were utilized by the Pennsylvanian Germans.

             Entering the grounds, three young ladies making a simple sweet treat called Potato Candy. It's made of boiled potatoes, butter, confectionary sugar and vanilla and the outcome of the recipe depends on the temperament of the weather. The climate was agreeable and the treats turned out delightful. Sophia Sampayo of Bally has been participating in the event for six years. Charlotte Hepler, from Emlenton has been involved for three years and Lillian Divelbiss is participating for the first time this year. She is from Pittsburgh, but her grandfather lives in the area and when visiting, she decided to join in on the fun at the Festival.

            Making one's way through the festival, fresh baked pumpernickel bread topped with apple butter and cottage cheese lured in visitors. The combination of ingredients is complimentary. "It's a unique taste as the sharpness from the spice of the pumpernickel bread and the marmalade sweetness of the apple butter intertwines with the smooth silky cottage cheese", described festival attendee Fares Farhat of Fairfax, PA.  


Becky Manley, left, and Sheila Walters mix the ingrediants used to make Apple Fritters.

There were demonstrations throughout the festival on various foods people made and 

ate in the 18th and 19th centuries.

            Marge Wommer of New Hanover has been participating in the event since 1978. She married her best friend and sweetheart Allen Wommer in 1977 and they participated in the reenactment annually. Marge's husband passed on not too long ago and the festival reminds her of him. When asked what her favorite part about the event was to her, she replied   "Teaching the people. Teaching them things that they don't know."

            The Pennsylvanian Germans raised honey bees and made beautiful bee skeps out of rye straw and bark shavings from young oak. It was a process that was methodical and thought out. The rye straw has a bitter taste and protected the bees from uninvited guests. Donna Spudis of Center Moreland, began learning to weave baskets at the age of 15. She participates by making bee skips at the festival. Although it's quite probable that woman made bee skeps as well as the men, it has not been historically recorded. Therefore Donna demonstrates her craft under the work of master bee keeper Harry Anselmo of Harleysville

            Early Pennsylvania Germans were self-reliant and well versed in herbal medicine. Visitors could sample tonics and remedies made from age old recipes. Not only did they bring knowledge of plants with them to the new world, but they also learned about native medicinal plants from the Lenni Lenape.  For example, Indian Lemonade made of sumac blossoms was a tonic sweetened with raw honey and then chilled. For colds elderberry and honey together boosted the immune system and possesses antimicrobial properties. Raw honey and mustard together alleviated respiratory ailments.

            This writer tried a sore throat remedy (I didn't have a sore throat, but I wanted to taste the combination).  This mixture was made with sage leaves, vinegar, water with alum root, and raw honey. It's used as a gargle. It had a delightful pleasing taste that would surely comfort a sore throat. Teaching visitors about the traditional medicines was Maria Nyce of Pennsburg. She has been participating in the event for 39 years. Her entire family participated and her father is the master beekeeper for the event. Maria brings her children to participate. It is a way of learning through interactions as well as keeping the tradition of a local culture alive and well.

            Meandering through the plantation grounds, one can have the pleasure of speaking with visitors enjoying the event. Bonnie Gerhart of King of Prussia was enjoying the festivities with her aunt Mary Gerhart Whittam of West Chester. Bonnie volunteered for the event when she was in Sixth grade. She stills enjoys the festival. When asked what was the best thing about the festival she replied "Tradition. And oh, someone was walking around with a Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar they found in a Hickory Tree. They had it in a large glass jar to show people. It develops into a Regal Moth."  Mary has been enjoying the festival since the 70's. She comes to honor the heritage and culture. This year she volunteered on Saturday morning to peel peaches. The peaches come from an orchard in Kempton. "It takes me back to my farming childhood and I like to support the Goschenhoppen Historians", said Mary.

            Throughout the festival visitors can learn and experience many unique traditions. There is a variety of traditional food to sample and purchase: Summer Sausage Sandwiches, Red Beet Eggs, Funnel Cake, Chicken Pot Pie, fresh fruit and veggies and many others goodies.

            It is apparent that the Pennsylvania German settlers honored the earth and the bounty that nature provided.  Nothing was never ever wasted.

            If you have never been to the Goschenhoppen Folk Festival, definitely mark it on your calendar for next year.





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