The annual Pennsylvania German Zammelaaf will be held Saturday, March 16, with a mixture of traditional Pennsylvania German crafts and artists, authentic Pennsylvania Dutch food, children’s activities, old-fashioned toys, music, history, language, and genealogy.

The event, which is held at Midway Diner in Bethel, is the successor to Lebanon’s Pennsylvania German Festival, which was held at HACC in downtown Lebanon until 2011. Organizers said that, when the Lebanon event ended, they sought to continue the tradition to continue promoting Pennsylvania Dutch as a language, culture, and heritage.

Their first zammelaaf – a Pennsylvania Dutch word meaning “social gathering” – was first held in 2013 at New Covenant Christian School. Since 2019, the event has been held at the Midway Diner.

The schedule for the free event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A silent auction will also be operating until 2:30 p.m.

  • 10:15 a.m. – Die Schwadore Schalle – Youth and adults sing in PA German
  • 11 a.m. – Children’s Activity – PA German rhymes and songs with Mary Laub
  • 11:30 a.m. – Mike Emery – “Pennsylvania German Gravestones”
  • 12:15 p.m. – Children’s Activity – PA German story with Mary Laub
  • 12:45 p.m. – Dr. Harry Serio – “Spirituality & Folk Traditions of Pennsylvania Germans”
  • 1:30 p.m. – Children’s Activity – PA German songs with Mary Laub
  • 2 p.m. – Mike & Linda Herzog – Performing songs in Pennsylvania German

Die Schwadore Schalle – which translates to “Swatara Sounds” – is a local singing group founded in 2002 by Pennsylvania Dutch expert Alice Spayd. The group’s songs vary from year to year, but their past repertoire included “Daheem Uff der Alt Bauerei” (“Home on the Range”), “Drei Blinde Meis” (“Three Blind Mice”), “Des Land iss Dei Land” (“This Land is Your Land”), and “Schnitzelbank” (“Cutting Board”), which is considered one of the most popular Pennsylvania German songs.

The Midway Diner, on Midway Road at exit 16 of Route 78, uses the occasion to feature Pennsylvania Dutch food on the menu, including pork and sauerkraut, Snitz ans Nepp (“apples and buttons”), and other meat and vegetable dishes.

The Pennsylvania Dutch dialect emerged regionally through German, French, and Swiss immigrants whose German language grew to include American English words and phrases (e.g. “outen the lights,” meaning turn off the lights).

More information can be found on Facebook. Contact the Pennsylvania German Zammelaaf at

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