The Reading-Berks Guild of Craftsmen community outreach programs include encouraging local students to continue to explore their art and craftsmanship through our education programs, bringing “Your Berks Craftsmen” to homes on BCTV, demonstrating crafts at Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center events, at the Kutztown Folk Festival and at our Festivals, and having programs open to the public at our Monthly Meetings at the GoggleWorks. We have been involved in several community outreach programs including decorating trash cans for the city and donating items for fund raisers. If you would like our Guild to be part of your community outreach program, please contact us.
GoggleWorks Center for the Arts
The GoggleWorks Center for the Arts is a community art and cultural resource center located in Reading PA. Its mission is “to nurture the arts, foster creativity, promote education and enrich the community.” The artists and arts-based organizations housed within the building are all committed to renewing and revitalizing the community. Our Guild holds our monthly meetings at the Goggleworks. We contribute to their scholarship program yearly, have decorated their holiday tree and held exhibitions of members work. Several of our members jury the BCIU Student Exhibition held yearly. Goggleworks workshop students can participate in our festivals free of charge, and the Goggleworks utilizes space at our festivals to educate the public about their workshops and events. We feel very fortunate to have such an active arts center in our neighborhood.
Kutztown Folk Festival
The Kutztown Folk Festival is the oldest continuously operated folklife festival in America. This nineday event continues to draw visitors from all over the world, entertaining families while providing insight into the traditions of the Pennsylvania Dutch and their way of life. The festival also houses the largest quilt sale in America and has an internationally attended Quilt Auction of top prize-winning quilts. One can find traditional craftsmen demonstrating the skills and tools that helped build this great country. Many of these craftsmen are members of the Reading-Berks Guild of Craftsmen, one of the oldest craft guilds in the country.
The Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center
The Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center represents the commitment of Kutztown University to the preservation of Pennsylvania German (Pennsylvania Dutch) history, folklore and traditions. The Center sits on a 30-acre, 19th century farmstead and is an open-air folklife museum and research center. It features a one-room schoolhouse, library, museum and several cabins with year round programming and events. Our Guild has “adopted” one of the cabins, named the Corrigan cabin. The cabin has been erected and continues to be refined.
There are three main functions at PGCHC, when our members are invited to exhibit their traditional crafts, demonstrate and sell their work in the Corrigan cabin.
- Easter on the Farm is always held the day before Palm Sunday. This event also features traditional PA German Easter customs, including egg decorating, reading several PA German books about Easter, making Fastnachts in the Summer Kitchen, and holding egg hunts.
- Heemet Fescht, a harvest festival, is held the last Saturday of September. The harvest time traditions of the PA Germans are featured and there are many activities for children.
- Christmas on the Farm is held the first Saturday in December. The farmstead is decorated for the holidays, and traditional PA German carolers stroll around the grounds.
- The annual Kids Camp is held at the end of July. Our members teach the children attending traditional crafts, such as wheat weaving. This is a week long event when the children learn PA German customs, play games and make crafts, all with a PA German theme.
Several members of our guild are on the PGCHC Advisory Board and volunteer for many other functions. PGCHC has a quarterly newsletter that includes articles about our guild and advertises both our festivals. PGCHC participates at our festivals with their book, calendars, etc. We have a Kutztown Representative on our Board, who can help any member who wishes to come more involved with the PGCHC.