From the Executive Director features news and reflections on the work of PHMC by its chief administrator.

With the arrival of fall, you can find festivals everywhere in Pennsylvania. Celebrations of harvest range from the National Apple Harvest Festival in Arendtsville, Adams County, and the Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, Chester County, to old-country inspired Oktoberfests from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Many are established traditions with local origins — Stahlstown in Westmoreland County will be holding its 111th annual Flax Scutching Festival, centered around the art of making linen from flax.

We are also celebrating the harvest season at the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. We mark the culmination of a year’s worth of work at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum in Lancaster with Harvest Days, where heirloom varieties of apples become apple butter and cider, and wool goes from sheep to shawl. At Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Beaver County, the harvest season is marked by Erntedankfest, a thanksgiving with origins in rural Germany. Our fall festival at Somerset Historical Center is Mountain Craft Days, where heritage tradespeople, craft artisans and musicians interpret the rich frontier history of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Celebration is an important part of who we are as individuals and as a community. It helps us to keep connected to our roots and traditions. It gives us an opportunity to come together, sharing our history with those who are born into our neighborhoods and those who move there from the town next door or from abroad, weaving a stronger community. These festivals give us the opportunity to both consume and construct our culture.

With their recurrence, these events give us the opportunity not only to look back, but also to look forward. In this fall season, let us be thankful for the abundance that we share and for the communities we create and sustain. Through these celebrations, we are living our history, preserving our past, and shaping our future together.

Andrea W. Lowery
Executive Director, PHMC