Introducing the PennMArt Student Hex Sign Project

The Pennsylvania Dutch cultural influence echoes in Lehigh County – where the Pennsylvania Music Preservation Society (PAMPS) will host the annual Great Pennsyvlania Music & Arts Celebration (PennMArt) every year during Memorial Day Weekend at The Historic Allentown Fairgrounds.

This presence is visible on the decorated barns of the region, which are painted in a unique manner quite unlike anywhere else in America. Images of stars and floral patterns in brilliant colors – known as “hex signs” – serve as focal points in the farmscapes and accent an otherwise ordinary agricultural building, elevating it beyond mere utility to a level of folk art.

Here at PAMPS, we want to preserve this important part of Pennsylvania heritage, while educating the next generation as to its influence on our culture. That’s why we are partnering with the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University to host a hex sign project for students in grades K-12, during PennMArt, which takes place May 26-28, 2018.

Students of all ages will have the opportunity to design their own unique hex signs during PennMArt. The public will then have a chance to vote on these works of art to select the signature hex sign for this year’s inaugural celebration.

The Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University will also provide audio/visual educational seminars on Pennsylvania Dutch history, including hex signs and their significance, throughout the weekend-long celebration. To learn more, follow this link. To learn how you can get involved in the festivities, please reach out to us.

Restoring Lehigh County As One of Two Beating Hearts of PA Dutch Heartland

Hands down!   My new favorite destination is the PA German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University.  Tucked behind the stately main Kutztown campus buildings is a Pennsylvania Dutch farm replete with the magnificent hex signs created by national hex sign expert and author Heritage Center Director Patrick Donomeyer.  We of the 2018 Great Pennsylvania Music & Arts Celebration at the Historic Allentown Fairgrounds on Memorial Day Weekend are honored to collaborate with Patrick – on a multiple year initiative to catalog and restore Lehigh County’s fast disappearing Hex Signs.

Patrick describes Lehigh County as the lessor known leg of the “two legged pants” of the PA Dutch Heartland – coupled with Berks County – better known for its PA Dutch bonafides.  Lancaster is distinguished by its rich concentration of Amish and Mennonite religious sects while sister counties York, Northampton, York, Montgomery and Bucks share in PA Dutch traditions.  By the time of the American Revolution, the PA Dutch constituted 1/3 of Pennsylvania’s population.

While Berks and Lancaster counties especially have preserved and nurtured their PA Dutch roots – budding a healthy tourism industry around it (Lancaster has the second largest B&B market IN THE NATION) Lehigh has all but forgotten the pivotal role it played in Pennsylvania’s PA Dutch culture.

Through the Great Pennsylvania Music & Arts at the Historic Allentown Fairgrounds on Memorial Day Weekend the PA Music Preservation Society looks to revitalize Allentown and Lehigh County’s role in this important cultural tradition – especially through its educational and preservation focused Lehigh County Hex Sign Initiatives. Stay tuned!