NEW BERLIN — Each year, New Berlin Day draws a large crowd of local and faraway visitors to its huge offering of craft and antique vendors. This year will be the event’s milestone 50th anniversary — and quite possibly its last.
According to Shirl Hummel, New Berlin Day coordinator and treasurer of the New Berlin Activities Committee, many of the current committee members are older and will be retiring from their volunteer service and, as of right now, there are no younger individuals who have stepped up to take the helm to continue the event into the future.
As they still hold out hope that that won’t be the case, the committee has worked to make the 50th annual event a little extra special. Hummel said they will have 100 numbered, commemorative crocks available for purchase, as well as special commemorative mugs.
Despite the pandemic restrictions that have caused the cancellation of so many other events this year, the Activities Committee decided it was important for their community that they move forward with this special celebration, with plenty of precautions in place.
Kathy Diehl, who is in charge of the craft vendors for New Berlin Day, said every other vendor space will be empty to encourage social distancing. Because of that, there won’t be as many vendors as previous years. However, the spaces they did have available have filled up fast.
Committee volunteers have been inundated with calls from both prospective vendors and those looking to visit the event this year and wanting to make sure it was still happening. Hummel said some of those calls have been from people as far away as Scranton and New York state. She estimated that there will be about 125 craft and antique vendors to peruse.
Diehl said vendors will include Usborne, Pampered Chef, as well as individuals selling jewelry, wooden and crochet items, treats and clothing for pets, quilted items, stoneware, soy candles, primitives, and more.
Many of the craft as well as antique vendors have been part of the day in previous years and will be returning, Diehl said.
An added bonus this year, Hummel said, will be a man who will be making homemade ice cream with a hit-and-miss engine. Also on site will be food stands to help raise money for some local organizations, including a church with a soda and pie stand, and the local fire company, which will be selling chicken barbecue, French fries and fish sandwiches.
“That was another reason why it was important that we do this (hold the event this year),” Hummel said. Due to the pandemic, “none of these organizations have been able to earn any money at any other activity this year.”
Hummel said the day is also a fundraiser for the Activities Committee, which has funded the borough’s annual Fourth of July celebration, welcome signs for the town and a sign for its community center, as well as a gazebo and a new town Christmas tree. They have also provided funds for the recreation association and fire company, and much more.
“Everything we earn goes for the good of New Berlin,” Hummel said.
This will be Diehl’s last year volunteering for New Berlin Day, but she said one of her favorite parts has been meeting all of the vendors the morning of the event. “I start hitting the streets at 6 a.m.,” she said. The Activities Committee has also provided vendors each year with coffee and cookies.
“Just being able to interact with our vendors is really fun,” Diehl said.
Hummel said she has especially loved spending time with the crowds that have come each year.
“People are so friendly,” she said. “It is just a very nice day. We get people who were born and raised here, and moved away, and they like to come back for this day. It’s kind of like a reunion for them.”
She encourages people to come out and enjoy all the day has to offer, adding “We are taking every precaution that we know to make it safe this year.” She understands that some may be afraid because of the virus, and they urge anyone with symptoms to stay home. There will be handwashing stations and signs throughout the area, and masks and disinfectant wipes will be provided if needed.
New Berlin Day will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday along Market, Plum and Vine streets, centered around the town square. There is free admission and free parking.
The New Berlin Activities Committee took over the event 17 years ago. Previously, the event was run by the New Berlin Heritage Association.
For more information, visit www.newberlinpa.com.