Dutch Days turns 50
RICHFIELD — In July of 1968 the community of Richfield came together in Basom Park for a celebration.
It was the sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, of the town at the far eastern corner of Juniata County and a small portion of southwestern Snyder County.
Folks came together wearing period clothing from the early 1800s to Basom Park to hear music, play games and participate in contests.
They had so much fun, the Sesquicentennial Committee decided this should be an annual event.
It was first known as “The Dutch Festival.” Over time the event would be known as “Dutch Days.”
As the town celebrates another 50 years of history, its people are also reminiscent of five decades of Dutch Days.
“We’re re-creating what happened in 1968,” said committee member Danny Stump. Many of the events that made the first Dutch Days a memorable experience will return for this year. The 50th anniversary takes place July 17 to 21.
For instance, there will be a beard and mustache contest, for which men all over Richfield have been growing their beards since the start of the year.
There will also be a retro fashion show where community members will be judged for clothing from various eras over the last 200 years. An old fashioned cake walk will take place, and coffee will be sold for a dime all week.
Dutch Days has always taken place Wednesday through Saturday. For the sake of the anniversary, an additional night will be part of the celebration. The festival will begin Tuesday this year.
In 1968, there was a bus tour through the town highlighting the historic sites. Stump said that will happen again each night this year, starting at the Parish House.
New to Dutch Days this year will be a mobile Escape Room, a Chinese Auction, and a community picnic taking place at 5:30 p.m. July 15 at Basom Park. Everyone is asked to bring a covered dish. The picnic will be followed by the traditional Dutch Days church service.
During the Sunday evening activities, a recreation of the Richfield Sesquicentennial song will be performed by a choir of community members.
In 1968, the song was sung in the same manner. Lyrics were written by the late Sally Swartz. Music was composed by Rose Snyder. Her son, Brent, who was 2 years old at the time, rewrote the lyrics to commemorate 200 years.
Another addition will be fireworks Thursday night sponsored by Regester Chevrolet, which opened in Richfield in 1932. The business moved to Thompsontown in 1962.
Saturday’s annual Dutch Days parade will also be significant this year. Grand marshals of the parade will be a host of individuals who have attended every Dutch Days since 1968.
Video of the first parade will be played on TVs located in the buildings on site. There will also be video of Sesquicentennial of 1968.
Saturday evening, the annual Dutch Days name quilt will be auctioned at 10 p.m. The names of individuals who signed for the quilt at Dutch Days the previous year are sewn on the quilt. This year there will be two quilts auctioned, Stump said. The name quilt from 2017 will be auctioned, as well as a special bicentennial quilt that features photos of historic landmarks in the town and was quilted by Grace Lauver. Both are on display at the Juniata Valley Bank in Richfield.
For more information, visit www.dutchdays.com, or go on Facebook and search for Richfield Dutch Days.