Guest Column: Introducing a stranger at the Kutztown Folk Festival to scrapple

Submitted photo by Fred Schearer
Dr. Ren frying scrapple at the Schearer residence in Kutztown.
Submitted photo by Fred Schearer Dr. Ren frying scrapple at the Schearer residence in Kutztown.

While working at the Kutztown Folk Festival, a gentleman approached me for directions. I provided him with sites which I thought might be of interest. He continued talking to me slowly in English and seemed genuinely interested in wanting to continue talking.

He told me his name is Dr. Jun-yi Ren and that he is a visiting scholar in the College of Business at Kutztown University. Dr. Ren said he is a business management instructor at Yantai University in Chinas Shandong Province.

Since Dr. Ren was eating a hot dog, I asked him if he would be interested in visiting a place where various meats were sold, right here on the grounds.

We entered Mrs. Dietrichs meat market and I introduced Dr. Ren to Verna Dietrich. Verna spoke to Dr. Ren about the various meats.


I invited Dr. Ren to our house for scrapple.

Following through on my promise on July 17, after the completion of the Festival, Dr. Ren and I drove to Verna Dietrichs Krumsville store to purchase some scrapple and applebutter. It took half an hour to get the celebrity out of the store as he asked numerous questions about everything. Verna Dietrich was most helpful in showing him various meats while being photographed.

As soon as we arrived at our house in Kutztown, I put him to work slicing the scrapple, filling individual dishes with chow-chow, layering dishes with lettuce covered with hot bacon dressing, dishing out cooked potatoes, and plucking corn on the cob out of the hot water.

Over and over he expressed his love of Kutztown and how he wished he could live here. Dr. Rens stay in Kutztown will be only six months and then he will return to China.

Oh by the way, he ate everything on his plate, but dont tell Verna that he put Catsup on his scrapple.

After our meal, I drove him to the highest part of Kutztown where the Borough of Kutztown has its satellite dish. We got out of the car and looked both directions toward Topton, Lyon Station, and toward Reading.

My wife and I met one more time with Dr. Ren and his wife and 12-year-old daughter who flew to the United States on July 21.

I received an email from Dr. Ren asking me if I could take his daughter to summer camp next week. It seems Dr.Rens daughter wants to know what the real life of an American girl is like so he enrolled his daughter in a YMCA camp near Fleetwood for a week.

The only problem is he has no drivers license and cant rent a car.

Dr. Ren asked for help to get his daughter to camp so every morning, next week, I will be at Kutztown University to take Dr.Ren and his daughter to camp and pick her up after camp daily.

Next Tuesday evening, July 30, we will entertain the three of them at our house. By then, we should know each other very well.

Meeting Dr. Ren at the Festival is turning out to be a great experience for both families.

Fred Schearer, of Kutztown, is a retired elementary school teacher who has worked at the Festival for 43 years.