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Erntefest: A Harvest Festival at Old Economy Village

On Saturday, September 29th and Sunday, September 30th,

Young Harmonist, Michael Falcone, works with a young visitor to start a broom at Erntefest.

Old Economy Village

will celebrate

Erntefest, a traditional German harvest festival.  The event runs from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Noon until 5:00 p.m. Sunday.  The Village celebrates Erntefest each year to demonstrate ways that the Harmonists, and other people living in western Pennsylvania, would have prepared for winter in the nineteenth century.

The fall harvest was a very busy time for the Harmonists and other 19th century Americans involved in agricultural pursuits.  Perishable fruits and vegetables needed to be preserved for use during the winter months.  Animals were butchered and the meat was smoked or salted. Animal fat from the butchering could be used in the production of candles that provided light through the long dark winter as well as for the making of soap.  Flax was harvested, dried and then processed to produce linen. Harmonists took apples and produced cider and hard cider.  Grapes were harvested, pressed and used for the production of wine.

Visitors of all ages have a chance to learn how to make sausage, butter, apple schnitz, cider, wine and a variety of other traditional fall foods of the 19th century.  There will be broom making, wine making, meat smoking, coopering, bee keeping, and more, all activities that would have been done by members of the Harmony Society in the years before the Civil War.

There will be specific activities for children to enjoy.  Old Economy Village’s operating scale model of a fire pumper will be available for youngsters (and for adults who are young at heart) to pump.  Hoop rolling, sack races, stilts, and the game of graces will be available.  “Hands on” chore related activities include pumping water, using a wash board, and milking “Bessie” the wooden cow.  Very small children can immerse themselves in Harmonist surroundings in the Kinderhaus.  This building has scaled down reproduction Harmonist furniture and other objects that can be explored and       

are the perfect size for preschool age children.  There will also plenty of crafts for the children to make and take home with them.

Historic buildings will be opened and interpreted.  There will be scheduled tours of the Rapp House.  Musical entertainment will add to the atmosphere of the event.  On Saturday, St. John’s Lutheran Church will be selling German style food.  The Friends of Old Economy Village will have a food stand inside the village on both days.  Our noted grape pies will be available for sale and the Economy 4H Club will be operating their Farmers Market.

For more information on Erntefest at Old Economy Village, call (724)266-4500 or email  The ticket office and admission entrance are located in the Visitor Center at 270 Sixteenth Street in Ambridge.  Tickets are $12.00 per adult and $6.00 for children 3-17; children under 3 are free.  Admission is also free to members of the Friends of Old Economy Village.  Old Economy Village is fourteen miles northwest of Pittsburgh on Route 65.

Old Economy Village was the home of the 19th century Christian communal group, the Harmony Society.  Established in 1824, Economy was known worldwide for its piety and industrial prosperity.  Old Economy Village, a National Historic Landmark, is one of 25 historic sites and museums on the Pennsylvania Trails of History®, administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the commonwealth’s official history agency.  The Village is located at Fourteenth and Church Streets, in the National Register Historic District of Ambridge, Pennsylvania.  For more information on Old Economy Village please call (724) 266-4500 or visit


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