Among the iconic craftsman that have always made up our Colonial ethnic natives of the Pennsylvania people, have been the historic tradesmen that have been long remembered for their craftsmanship, enabling immigrant natives to survive in a somewhat hostile pioneer environment. Key tradesmen who represented the community’s life blood in Colonial times, and these historic individuals played a significant role in Pioneer Folklife until the birth of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century.
Therefore, when Dr. Alfred Shoemaker established the Kutztown Folk Festival in the 1950s, he only had to rely on the many community butchers and candlestick makers that still survived among the many Pennsylvania Dutchmen that still practiced their craft among local native communities. In fact, native craftsmen and butchers were so plentiful, he was challenged to determine who was the best or followed better traditional folklife traditions. Thereby, over the years since 1950, the annual Kutztown Folk Festival had no problem selecting native craftsman to ply their art at this Americana Institution.
Over the years since 1950, the Pennsylvania Dutch craftsmen who best represented their craft and artistry of the seven PA Dutch counties that comprise the PA Dutch country were highlighted at the annual Dutch Folk Festival which celebrated our nation’s best Americana folk culture here in native Kutztown, where the German dialect is still spoken by the natives as a second language! Where sauerkraut and homemade shoofly pie are a national dish among hardworking rural farmers of their Rhinelander ancestors.
This historic fabled photograph was taken by Robert Walch is of early American Craftsman showcased by the American Folklife Institute of Lobachsville in the 1970s at their Cherry Fair, titled “The Butcher, Baker, and the Candlestick maker. The Baker in this case is well-known local, Minnie Hoch.
Richard H. Shaner is director of the American Folklife Institute in Kutztown.