Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Goshenhoppen, Scherenschnitte, Belsnickel

We finally made it to the Goshenhoppen Folk Festival. I had known of it for years, but had never been. Vonderful fun! Friday was just a beautiful day, sunny and clear, but not too hot.

Upon admission, we were each told to take a wooden nickel. One child asked, "What is this for?" To which the lady behind the table responded, "It's just for nice." Right then I knew this was going to be a good day. It was one of those expressions that harken you back deep into childhood. "Just for nice." Yes, this was PA Dutch County. Although it was a bit east and north of Lancaster Co. This festival celebrates the specific culture of the PA Germans in the Goshenhoppen area in upper Montgomery County. Many of the things we saw were representative of the culture in other areas as well.

100_2220.JPGOur family and another which joined us for the day are foodies. We love food. We like to try different kinds of food. And little did I know, but one of the main things to do at this festival was just that. At many historic sites you can watch people prepare a meal of historically accurate foods on historically accurate appliances (or historically accurate hearths) but because of some law somewhere they can't let you taste it. Not here! 100_2203.JPGWe had: pepper cabbage, apple butter and cottage cheese on brown bread, mashed potato candy, fastnachts, chicken pot pie, sage tea, raw honey, cornmeal something or other, GP cake, Schwenkenfelder Saffron cake and a few others I forgot. As you were given a free sample you learned a little bit of the how and why behind the food.

The kids made cookie cutters, corn husk dolls and a straw-stuffed sewn doll. We were able to see some farm animals, ride in a horse drawn wagon filled with hay and also observe some traditional crafts like scherenschitte.

A visit with the Belsnickel was a little scary (for all of us frankly - just look at her!) 100_2219.JPGWe decided not to go to the hog or the steer butchering (for obvious reasons) but the butcher was more than a little aggressive about trying to convince people to come. At the end when it looked as though the "this will be interesting" line wasn't working he had the dead, blood-dripping steer carted down the main path of the festival. He was standing in the back of the cart yelling, "If you think this is gross, this is where your meat comes from, not from the grocery store!" Okay, I think we understand...

Toward the end we also bought freshly chopped peaches and ice cream. The ice cream was from a local dairy and the crowd of people chopping the peaches were just a few yards away. Very quaint, very good, very very relaxing learning day. If you are in the area I recommend it highly.


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