Music, food, games and family fun united the community to celebrate Kutztown on Kutztown Day at the park on Aug. 4.

“Kutztown Day has been going on since 1907. There was only three years it didn’t happen and that was during WWII and that was out of respect of the soldiers who were off fighting,” said Kutztown Mayor Jim Schlegel, who has served on the Kutztown Day Committee for many years and chaired the committee for 12 years prior to becoming mayor. “Kutztown Day is a big picnic for the community of Kutztown. We all come together and have entertainment, games, tournaments and visit with one another.”

Kutztown Day, a free community event, is always held the first Sunday in August.

“There’s lots of good food here,” said Schlegel, talking about his favorite part of the day. "The entertainment ranks right up there. For many years we had the Allentown Band. Now we’re getting different bands.”

This year’s Kutztown Day concert lineup opened with The Dave Mell Blues Band in the bandshell followed by the Happy Dutchman Band strolling through the park playing authentic German music in the afternoon. The Mudflaps reunion was rocking the park with hits from the oldies in the evening. A smiling crowd clapped along to the music and a few even got up to dance. People filled the bandshell and set up chairs outside in the park. The music concluded with the Brass and Rhythm Ensemble on a stage set up at the lower end of Kutztown Park.

Throughout the day, there was much to do, see, eat and hear. Activities included mini golf and disc golf, Bingo, cakewalk, quoit tournament, Kutztown Adult Kickball League tournament, children’s games, teachers in a dunk tank, fire safety activities by the Kutztown Fire Department and various food vendors throughout the park.

Community organizations set up tables in the park, handing out pamphlets and goodies like bubbles and chalk at the Kutztown Area Transport Service, Inc. table.

“What do I like about Kutztown Day? I like that the park is full of families and local people. It brings families together,” said Allison Fuller with Kutztown Area Transport Service.

The Kutztown Area Historical Society displayed photographs of the park from 100 years ago, as well historical maps and publications. Craig Koller, of the Historical Society Board of Directors, talked to attendees about upcoming Historical Society events, such as the free ice cream social on Aug. 10, from 6 to 8 p.m., and the Sept. 8 presentation by Mayor Jim Schlegel talking about the trolley that ran from Allentown to Reading through Kutztown.

“Kutztown Day has been going on for over 100 years. This is a nice continuation. You feel a connection to the past. The park was always a big gathering place, not just for Kutztown Day but all through the summer,” said Koller. “Everybody in Kutztown has some memory of summer at Kutztown Park.”

Rep. Gary Day also had a table at the event.

“People should really make this something they come to every year to meet their borough officials and state representative and other people in the community,” said Day. “You can also join different organizations (all represented at Kutztown Day). Boy Scouts, Oasis Youth Center, Kutztown Community Partnership are all different organizations that are working hard to make Kutztown a better place to live, work and raise a family.”

For Joanne Englehart of Kutztown, this event is about community.

“All getting together, picnics, Bingo, cake walk, I mean what isn’t there to like about Kutztown Day. It’s where we all come together,” said Englehart who came out with her husband Jason and their daughter Jocelyn, as well as their dogs Pretzel and Lola.

Caitlin Herman of Kutztown and her son Lincoln, 6, enjoyed the kids’ activities. Highlights for Lincoln were the bounce house, ice cream and getting a shark painted on his face.

“I just love the fact that they bring everybody from the town together and host events that everybody can hang out with one another. There’s free music and of course the fireworks at the end are always a big highlight,” said Caitlin.

Playground fun was also a big hit, with kids crowding into the sand box or clambering over the playground equipment, shouting, “Look, Mom! See what I can do!” The new skate park was a welcome change as youth of various ages and skills used the ramps and inclines on bikes and skate boards.

Kutztown Day concluded with the raffle ticket drawing, featuring more than 50 prizes donated by local businesses, and the fireworks show.

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Lisa Mitchell is an editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers, covering news and events in the Northeast Berks County area.

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