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Kutztown Folk Festival returns July 2-10

The Kutztown Folk Festival, https://www.kutztownfestival.com/, returns to the Kutztown Fairgrounds in Northeast Berks County this summer.

Founded in 1950, the Kutztown Folk Festival is the oldest continuously operated folklife festival in America. During the week of July 2-10, the event will be held in person for the first time since 2019.

For the past two years due to the pandemic, festival organizers hosted a virtual event, which engaged a record number of social media followers with an online quilt auction and quilt store, contests, recorded musicians and demonstrations by craftspeople and artisans.

This year, visitors will rediscover a festival recognized nationally for its authentic crafts, food, entertainment and interpretive demonstrations, as it weaves some fresh perspectives into its traditional landscape.

A new face of the festival is Berks County native and Kutztown University alum Heather Zimmerman who was named director of the Kutztown Folk Festival in June 2021. She is the first woman festival director in the event’s 72-year history.

The Quilt Barn is a popular linchpin of the festival brand. “In the Quilt Barn, you will observe the broadest span of grassroots. Transitional quilts - a crossover from traditional to contemporary - are often lighter and brighter - the palate of color differs and the design may not be traditional in any shape or form,” Cyndi Hershey, quilt education and development director said.

She characterizes the festival as “a multigenerational event,” as over the years, she has seen children with their parents who also were festival visitors as children. “The festival represents a nostalgia and comfort level that people are craving, especially considering the last two years,” Hershey added.

Quilts are accepted for the festival through a competitive juried process. The annual quilt auction is held on the second Saturday of the festival, July 9. Although the quilt auction was virtual the last two years, selling quilts online was a big part of virtual visitor engagement.

A Pennsylvania native and watercolor artist for 39 years, Diane Phalen has been a fixture of the Kutztown Folk Festival for the last 15. According to Zimmerman, she is “a great ambassador for the festival.” This year, she will staff her vendor booth in the Quilt Barn because she is donating a painting of the very Zigzag Log Cabin Quilt featured in the acclaimed quilt auction.

Phalen’s framed painting will be offered for bid alongside hundreds of quilts in the auction noon July 9. Phalen has featured her painting on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=5513426998687450&;set=a. 1380135908683267.

To plan your trip to the Kutztown Folk Festival, visit https://www.kutztownfestival.com/ to purchase advance tickets online and to explore schedules, merchandise, vendors and entertainment.