Category Archives: Blog

PennMArt Featured in The Morning Call

As the inaugural Great Pennsylvania Music & Arts Celebration (PennMArt) draws closer on Memorial Day Weekend at the historic Allentown Fairgrounds, we want to recognize our wonderful local media outlets, who have helped us spread the word.

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Tell PAMPS: What Does ‘Pennsylvanian’ Mean to You?

This Memorial Day Weekend will mark the first-ever Great Pennsylvania Music and Arts Celebration (PennMArt). Held at the historic Allentown Fairgrounds, PennMArt is a free, for-all-ages, and family-friendly event that will honor the rich cultural heritage of our Commonwealth, dating back to the days of William Penn to the present. From May 26-28, we will take time to honor our state’s varied folk art traditions, musical legacy, military history, and more.

Before we do that, however, we want to hear from you.

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Meet the PennMArt PA Dutch, Polka, and Rock Committee

As we continue working toward making the inaugural Great Pennsylvania Music and Arts Celebration (PennMArt) a memorable experience for all, we want to introduce you to a few of the folks making it all possible.

Our Pennsylvania Dutch, Polka, and Rock Committee has been meeting for months now, planning a weekend full of musical programming that spans the many diverse genres and cultural nuances of our Commonwealth. These folks are accomplished local and regional music personalities, who each bring their own brilliant ideas to the table.

They are:

Keith Brintzenhoff – Keith is an expert on Pennsylvania German music, dance, instruments, and folklore. Keith has served as musical advisor for the Kutztown PA German Festival, and has performed at Hershey Museum, Historic Schaefferstown, Der Dutch Peddler Homecoming (Ohio), Berks. County Heritage Festival, Lyons Fiddle Festival, Mayfair, the Mercer Museum, Reading Liederkranz, Landis Valley Farm Museum, Musikfest, three tours in Germany, and at the 700th anniversary of Switzerland Fescht in his ancestral home town.

A teacher by trade, Keith’s programs can be completely educational to completely entertaining. They can be discussion workshops, musical, PA German, kids, folklore, the Belsnickel, and various combinations. He performs a lot, sometimes by himself, sometimes with his wife, or a fiddle or banjo player, and sometimes with his band, The Toad Creek Ramblers. Full bio here.

Dave Follweiler – As chair of the committee, Dave had a large role in assembling a team of volunteers to this committee, each of whom brings a unique perspective to the musical landscape of the Commonwealth. Dave is the keyboardist of TimeWhy?s, a rock and roll band with a heavy 1960s influence who plays a wide variety of enjoyable originals and covers. TimeWhy?s was recently nominated for the Discover Lehigh Valley “Discovered Artist” Award at the 19th Annual Lehigh Valley Music Awards in Bethlehem.

Gerard Longo – Gerard is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Lehigh Valley Underground, the premier community resource for local music and entertainment news in eastern Pennsylvania. Gerard’s accomplishments include the successful launch of the Lehigh Valley Underground First Friday Concert Series in South Bethlehem, in partnership with SouthSide Arts District, as well as the honor of three 2018 Lehigh Valley Music Awards (Outstanding Music Website, Outstanding Music Supporter (Organization), Outstanding Music Supporter (Individual). Gerard also gives spotlight to independent musicians on his own weekly radio show, The Quinn Spinn, Mondays at 7 p.m. ET on WLVU: The Sound of The Underground.

Michael McKenna – Michael is the committee’s resident “music historian,” with decades upon decades of experience as a music journalist and promoter. Michael is an award-winning author for “Reelin’ in the Years: The Valley Music Vault 1960-1990,” a book about the history of Lehigh Valley music, bands, entertainers, radio, DJ’s, clubs, concerts, venues and other related subjects. In addition, Michael is a five-time award-winning journalist for his work on Nor’easter Magazine.

Stay tuned for exciting updates, as we bring a wide array of music to life at the historic Allentown Fairgrounds during PennMArt this Memorial Day Weekend. And, if you’d like to get involved, join us on Wednesday at Allentown’s Historic Benner Mansion for our first open volunteer meeting. Details are available here.

Open PennMArt 2018 Volunteer Meeting Set for Wed., 3/14

Want to be a part of Pennsylvania history? Join our growing team of volunteers for The Great Pennsylvania Music & Arts Celebration (PennMArt), taking place this Memorial Day Weekend a the historic Allentown Fairgrounds.

We will be holding our first open volunteer meeting of 2018 on Wednesday, March 14 from 6-7 p.m. at the Historic Benner Mansion (25 S. 15th St., Allentown). Light refreshments will be served! We will give you an overview of this year’s Celebration, and discuss the different ways you can get involved.

If you are looking to learn more, please reach out to us at 484-560-2810 or email

PennMArt to Put the ‘Memorial’ Back in Memorial Day

An integral part of the 2018 Great Pennsylvania Music & Arts Celebration (PennMArt) on Memorial Day Weekend will be three days of extensive programming to recognize the contributions of U.S. veterans, and to showcase Pennsylvania’s deeply-rooted role in the country’s military history. Appropriately, the inaugural event falls on the 100th anniversary year of the end of WWI, and the 150th anniversary of the first official Memorial Day.

Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Music Preservation Society (PAMPS), the Celebration will be held on the site of the World War I Camp Crane ambulance training site at the historic Allentown Fairgrounds. PAMPS CEO Siobhan “Sam” Bennett notes that the region is home to 50,000 veterans, and that PAMPS takes its role in recognizing the positive contributions of veterans, and educating the public on the nation’s military history extremely seriously.

“We want to put the Memorial back in Memorial Day,” Bennett said.

Veterans of yesterday will be remembered in a replica of a World War I log cabin originally built in 1917 to honor the soldiers from the 77th Division, who lost their lives during the bloody battle in the Argonne Forrest in France. Local members of the Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment will build the replica to provide a space where Celebration attendees can post stories or photos of loved ones who have served or are serving in the military, “So We Don’t Forget to Remember.”

Other remembrances will include reenactments from the American Revolution, the Civil War and World Wars 1 and 2. A military history series will include slide and video presentations on the history and tradition of the Purple Heart, the West End, Union Cemetery where both Union and Confederate soldiers are buried together, and the contributions of African-American soldiers, from the Revolutionary War, to the Civil War’s U.S. Colored Infantry, to today.

WWII Normandy bombardier and French Legion of Honor medal recipient Nathan Kline will be a featured speaker at PennMArt during Memorial Day Weekend. He will tell his personal stories and show his collection of photos that he took during his bombing runs.

”In keeping with PAMPS’ mission to preserve and promote Pennsylvania’s distinct musical heritage, we also will be celebrating our military music traditions by featuring performances by the Allentown Band, the nation’s oldest civilian military band, and its colleague bands that make Allentown ‘Band City USA,’” Bennett added.

As part of benefiting veterans of today, Viola Hertzog, director of the Lehigh County Veterans Affairs Office, is working with PAMPS on some of the Celebration initiatives, including providing complimentary exhibition space for veterans’ organizations, and showcasing those that provide housing and other essential services. People attending the free public event will be encouraged to bring new toiletries and clothing to distribute to veterans and their families experiencing housing challenges.

Children’s activities will include the opportunity for youngsters to create greeting cards and other art to send to deployed servicemen and women.

The veterans of tomorrow will be showcased at PennMArt, courtesy of the Junior ROTC Drill Invitational. The inaugural 2018 drill team competition will feature local high school drill teams, including those from the award-winning Louis E. Dieruff High School Air Force JROTC, and William Allen High School’s Navy JROTC. Under the direction of Major Timothy Page (Dieruff) and Commander David Crandall (William Allen), the 2019 invitational will go statewide, with future plans for a national meet to be hosted annually by PAMPS at its Memorial Day Celebration.

Learn how you or your organization can get involved in making PennMArt a success. Contact us using the information on this page.

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.

PennMArt Fast Facts: PA Veterans and Employment

Did you know:

  • Pennsylvania had 345,906 veterans between the ages of 18 and 64 in 2016 (4.4 percent of the state’s comparable population). Of these, 266,489 (77%) were in the labor force.
  • Pennsylvania was home to 13,168 unemployed veterans in 2016, for an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent.
  • In 2016, Clearfield (12.9%), Adams (11.3%), Indiana (10.4%), Northumberland (9.0%), and Allegheny (8.8%). Lebanon (0.0%) counties had Pennsylvania’s highest veteran unemployment rates. Monroe (0.0%), Centre (0.5%), Berks (0.6%), and Cumberland (0.6%) counties had the lowest veteran unemployment rates in 2016.
  • In 2016, Northampton (89.5%), Dauphin (89.0%), Lycoming (88.7%), Lebanon (87.8%), and Butler (87.5%) counties had Pennsylvania’s highest veteran labor force participation rates.
  • In October 2017, there were 339 Pennsylvania veterans claiming Unemployment Compensation benefits through the Commonwealth’s UCX program. This does not account for all the veterans who were receiving UC benefits – only those who were recently discharged from the military.
  • In 2016, the U.S. veteran unemployment rate was 4.7 percent, two-tenths of a percentage point lower than Pennsylvania’s rate (4.9%).

Source: Pennsylvania Center for Workforce Information and Analysis

We still have work to do, which is one of the many reasons the Great Pennsylvania Music and Arts Celebration (PennMArt) is putting the “Memorial” back in Memorial Day Weekend this year!

Join us as we honor Pennsylvania’s veterans by commemorating the 150th anniversary of Memorial Day, the 100th anniversary of World War I and Camp Crane, and feature programming meant to honor the veterans of yesterday, benefit the veterans of today, and showcase the veterans of tomorrow.

Learn more at this link, and make plans to join us at PennMArt this Memorial Day Weekend at the Historic Allentown Fairgrounds!

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!