Oh, how much fun there is in real, live entertainment - the kind that doesn't bounce at you from a computer screen!No high tech games here, but children coming to the Kutztown Folk Festival - June 28 to July 6 at the Kutztown Fairgrounds - still find all of the interactive fun that they want. Along the way they discover some things that are 100 years old but often are totally new to them.
"We have play and entertainment areas that the younger set really enjoys. Parents tell us that they appreciate the fact that children actually participate in so many of the activities. And while they are having fun, there is a lot of learning going on because along the way they are encountering history and time-honored customs," said Festival Executive Director Dave Fooks.
Children are enchanted with traditional children's folk songs by the musical duo "Echoing Heart" and then they are invited up to the stage to try their hand at playing melodies on some of the folk music instruments. Even more, they can actually learn to make simple instruments. Musicians in "The Acoustic Roadshow" teach young and old how to play a song on the guitar.
Sing-alongs led by Karen Terry Ludwig involve all of the youngsters (and oldsters too), and Ed and Brenda Hanna's puppet barnyard theatre gets children caught up in the lively goings on around Farmer Brown's barn. Children hoot and cheer while they try to help Farmer Brown find a missing barnyard animal.
Of course, there are plenty of live barnyard critters at the festival, too. The children's petting zoo is a favorite spot to see, touch and feed cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits and turkeys. Then, boys and girls can saddle up for pony rides just outside of the petting zoo.
Definitely bring your cameras as your children experience a moment in time on the 100-year-old "flying swing" - a mule-drawn carousel that is the only one of its kind in America. At the turn of the 20th century, the "flying swing" was the big hit for children at country fairs. Today this gentle, old-fashioned ride is equally popular with children at the festival.
Crafts and Pennsylvania Dutch games have been enjoyed for generations by children at the festival. The HexExpress, a unique train made of 55-gallon oil drums, takes its young passengers for rides on a trail of twists and turns. Der Korn Box (the Pennsylvania Dutch equivalent of a sand box - this one is filled with corn kernels instead of sand) and the hay maze are among the other favorites.
School is out for the summer, but when the bell clangs, children and adults can go back in time to learn in a replica of a 19th century one-room school house.
After all of this fun, children get hungry and they look for their own favorite foods - hot dogs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, for example. Kinner Eck (Children's Corner) is where they are sure to find what they like to eat - kids' size portions and kid size prices, too.
Who can resist a cone or dish of delicious, fresh-made ice cream on a summer day? See the ingredients of real ice cream churned the old-fashioned way (by foot peddling - children are invited to take a turn at this) and then enjoy a treat in your favorite flavor. What a way to end a great day at the festival!
Now in its 59th year, the Kutztown Folk Festival features a wide variety of good family fun. In addition to lots of Pennsylvania Dutch food, there are numerous folk life presentations; 220 nationally-recognized, juried folk artists and traditional American craftsmen; nearly 2,500 locally hand-made quilts on display and for sale; antiques and collectables, six stages of entertainment, music and dancing.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Admission for adults is $12, seniors $11. Children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by adults.
There is ample free parking and free shuttle service from the festival parking areas to the fairgrounds.
For a free brochure, call 1-888-674-6136 or 610-683-1597. Visit the Festival web-site at http://www.kutztownfestival.com.