Butcher apprentice Mike Bassett inspects a rack of fresh stuffed sausage prior to placing it in the smokehouse.
Mother Nature took a good shot at dampening the spirits of the volunteers and visitors of the 46th annual Goschenhoppen Folk Festival, but it wasn’t good enough. Friday morning’s downpours ended and gave way to a blue sky and occasional rays of sunshine just before the gates opened to more than 700 visitors who dared the sometimes overcast afternoon to ruin their visit. It didn’t.
Despite weather forecasters’ predictions, Saturday was a perfect day to visit the festival and nearly 2,500 visitors were treated to dozens of “living exhibits” portraying trades, crafts and many other skills of the 17th and 18th centuries; all performed by volunteers in period costumes using period tools and utensils.
Wandering through the displays at the Antes House Plantation in Upper Frederick Township, one could stop and learn about the skills our ancestors needed for everything from wheel-making, stone-cutting, house-building, butchering and cooking, baking and much more.
Cody and Lily Mangiaruga keep a close watch on the progress of Janel Lewis as she punches holes to make a design in a piece of tin at the tin smithing display at the Goschenhoppen Folk Festival last Friday afternoon.
And the food; so much good food for the eating and most of it prepared the way it was back in the day. No cheesesteaks, hoagies, french fries, hamburgers or hot dogs. Just food that was common at the time: ham, sausage and summer-sausage sandwiches with a side of baked lima beans, garden salad and beet eggs are always a favorite. Or maybe you preferred a serving of corn pie, vegetable soup or a side of pickled cabbage.
With a beverage of homemade root beer or perhaps some apple cider or peppermint water, it was a wonderful step back in time for the palate. A helping of freshly-pealed peaches and ice cream for dessert made the meal complete. It was any good trencherman’s delight.
Baked goods and other taste-bud satisfiers abounded. Pies, of nearly all makes, were guaranteed to please along with apple dumplings, funnel cakes, cookies and freshly-baked breads.
On the stage, festival-goers were treated to the music of the Strolling Fiddlers, Schultzville Band and the music and humor of Pennsyfawnish Dietsche folklorist and musician Keith Brintzenhoff.
Farm animals are always a favorite of the young and not-so-young. The free-roaming chickens and barnyard favorites shared the stage with those who provided much of the muscle at the farms in days gone by. Mighty horses walked the treadmill to power thrashers to take the grain of wheat stalks. Even dog power was used on a smaller treadmill to power a machine to remove corn from the husk.
The theme for the 2012 festival was the “Pennsylvania Long Rifle.” Having the opportunity to view and learn about one of only three known surviving long rifles made on the Antes House Plantation by William Antes was an experience.
Stephen Hench of Lancaster was on hand with his William Antes-inscribed long rifle and pistol. Antes’ firearms today are considered among the best in craftsmanship and artistry. Hench, an author of “Moravian Gun Making of The American Revolution,” said he “bought the gun in 1971 and used a touch of oil and wool to bring up the signature.”
Gun collector Stephen Hench of Lancaster poses with his William Antes-made long rifle, one of only three known to exist, and a copy of the book he co-authored, "Moravian Gun Making of the American Revolution."
The pistol is one of only three Antes-made known to exist. This one was unique. Two of the existing pistols he designed and made with a walnut stock and was European-like in design. The one Hench had on display being distinctively early American in design, was made with a stock of maple wood. The rifle and pistol both bore the thumb-rail reinforcement that was unique to the Antes style.
Knowing that there were only three of the rifles and pistols known to exist today and that they were made on the grounds of the Antes House Plantation added to the allure of the exhibit. Visitors lined up to see the gun and ask questions of Hench.
With another successful festival under their belts, organizers will begin planning the 2013 edition. Don’t miss out on this fantastic educational and entertaining event. The 2013 Goschenhoppen Folk Festival will be held on August 9 and 10 at the Antes Plantation at 318 Colonial Road, Perkiomenville (Upper Frederick Township).