Celebrating Independence Day at Fourth of July Car Show in Fleetwood and Kutztown Folk Festival

Photo by Steven Stolley Celebrating Independence Day on July 4 at the Kutztown Folk Festival.
Photo by Steven Stolley Celebrating Independence Day on July 4 at the Early Ford V-8 Club of America's 37th annual Fourth of July Car Show.

Area residents showed their Independence Day spirit at a Car Show in Fleetwood and at the Kutztown Folk Festival on Friday, July 4.

At Fleetwood Park, the Hawk Mountain Regional Group #68 of the Early Ford V-8 Club of America held their 37th annual Fourth of July Car Show despite heavy morning rain showers. Refreshments were served on plates adorned with American flags, and the show disc jockey played a patriotic medley.

“Regardless of the day of the week, it’s always on the Fourth. Rain or shine, as you saw,” said Rick Slegel of Blandon, President of the Regional Group.

“There’s no judging, that’s why we call it a show-and-shine,” continued Slegel. “We have fun, listen to the music … there are door prizes and a Chinese auction. We generally give a portion of the proceeds to a local charity. For a number of years, it was the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Last year, we gave $1,500 to Wounded Warriors of Berks County (Keystone Wounded Warriors). We may not hit $1,500 this year because of the turnout, but we will be donating to Wounded Warriors.”


He noted that all sorts of cars, not just Fords, are invited to participate in the show before acknowledging the effect of the rain on the show’s turnout, saying, “A lot of street rods usually show up, but due to the weather, a lot of them didn’t come out, because when you have 60 grand in a street rod, you know … ehh,” and chuckling.

Ken Adams of Barnesville and his friends decided to drive 35 miles to show out despite the dismal weather in the morning.

“The forecast was that it was going to clear; up home the sky was gray but it was bright, so we decided to come out. All these fellas here (he pointed to a group of older men sitting in lawn chairs beside him) are friends,” he said.

He had a 1964 Impala in the show.

A few miles away in Kutztown, the Kutztown Folk Festival kicked off its conclusive weekend with a Fourth of July parade in the morning. The festival also celebrated Independence Day by offering free admission on July 4 to active duty military personnel after 5 p.m.

Sarena Kabakoff, wearing traditional Pennsylvania Dutch garb and working the Wentz Street gate at the festival, noted the relevance of the festival to our nation’s history, saying, “The festival is an American cultural throwback to a time when we were based more in an agricultural society and we grew our own food before the Industrial Revolution.”

John Mertz of Grimdale, a member of the Antique Engine, Toy and Tractor Club, manned their display at the festival and proudly showed off his 1940 “M” McCormick-Deering Farmall tractor.

“We come every year and put on a display on this hill,” said Mertz.

The display, located near the gates, consisted mainly of older tractors, some ornamented with American flags, log saws and sporadically popping hit-and-miss engines from the early 1900s.

“The purpose of the club is to educate and demonstrate,” said Mertz. “Most people have a problem with these hit-and-miss engines. They wonder why they pop one time and then they don’t pop for a while and then they pop again, but that’s where the ‘hit-and-miss’ comes in. It will hit and then it will free-wheel completely with no compression, and then when it slows down it will fire again to bring the RPMs back up.”

These sound-only fireworks seemed to evoke a sense of nostalgia for Mertz, who harkened back to his childhood when asked for his feelings about our nation’s birthday. On July 4th Mertz likes to take a moment to reflect.

“I wasn’t in the service, but when I was a kid going to school, we lived through the war. Because of the rationing, you couldn’t buy shoes, you couldn’t get tires you couldn’t get gas … so even though I wasn’t in the war, we lived it at home.”

July 4th at the festival also included a 4th of July Festival Ceremony, Guest Performers from the Acoustic Roadshow, Dialect Humor by Bill Meck & Leroy Brown, The Celtic Martins, Old Time Country Auction and more.