By Josh Brokaw
The Boyertown Bulletin
The Goschenhoppen Historians will present the 46th annual Goschenhoppen Folk Festival on August 10 and 11 at the Henry Antes Plantation in Upper Frederick Township, on Colonial Road off Route 73.
What is a Goschenhoppen, you ask?
“Western Montgomery County is how I’d describe it,” says Bob Wood, a member of the Goschenhoppen Historians. “Little Road is the dividing line between what land drains into the Perkiomen and what drains into Swamp Creek—Goschenhoppen is the upper Perkiomen watershed, about 10 miles wide and five long, north of 73 and up through the Tri-Towns.”
The name is a regional one that showed up on the old maps, but never came into use for a specific borough or village, and thus became lesser used over the years. The large 1736 stone building at the center of the Antes plantation is not the only attraction for the weekend Folk Festival, though it serves as the centerpiece of the Historians’ land, who draw their members and Festival attendees from a wide area.
“We exist to increase the understanding of Pennsylvania Dutch, or Pennsylvania German culture,” Wood says. “We get people coming in from all over the region, and even up and down the East Coast—though we call it a plantation, that’s not a Southern name; the word ‘farm’ didn’t come into use until around the Civil War.”
Festival attendees, which average approximately 3,000 over the weekend, can attend a number of “hay bale” seminars, where folks knowledgeable about Pennsylvania Dutch history and practices will give talks on a variety of topics. There will also be a butchering demonstration, when “Butcher Miller” will show techniques in his craft from the 18th and 19th centuries.
“He’ll butcher, smoke the pigs and cows, make lard, prepare everything, show fire-skulling, they do everything,” Wood says. “We have lots of demonstrations, and reenactors who show work methods and crafts through the weekend.”
The Grand Fantastical Parade is a focal event of the Folk Festival; the name comes from pre-Civil War times, when militia musterings were a regular event.
“The (parade name) goes back to Battalion Days,” Wood says. “That was really the origin of county fairs—when people were required to come out for militia training, they came out for a few days, and they had elephants and everything—travel wasn’t so easy then.”
The Goschenhoppen Folk Festival is $10 for adults ($15 for an adult two-day pass) $2 for children ages 6-15, and free for those 6 and under. Call (215) 234-8953 or visit goschenhoppen.org for more information.
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