Perspectives from our Festival Performers

Musicians and other performers who play at farm venues and events like Fall Family Fun Days at Weaver’s Orchard have a unique perspective while onstage. Farmers create food, while those who perform in agricultural scenery create songs, sounds and stories.

In some cases, the stories of festival performers have been crafted from their own new words, and in other cases they are stories retold and reimagined as musicians cover classic songs. Or lessons are shared through conversations and flying objects, as in the case of juggling.

The parallels and peace which performers often comment on feeling at farm venues show how important our connection to the land truly is, especially today in a world that’s rushed and never away from the persuasion of technology for long. Orchards teach us what we need to get back to in ourselves, and the kinds of people who perform at farms do the same for us through what they create.

EMazingGrace - Grace Kensinger, Tony Stoltzfus and Emily Stoltzfus - courtesy of Diane Kensinger
EMazingGrace – Grace Kensinger, Tony Stoltzfus and Emily Stoltzfus – courtesy of Diane Kensinger

EMazinGRACE, based in Mainheim, Lancaster County, is a bluegrass band consisting of 18-year-old Grace Kensinger and siblings 17-year-old Emily Stoltzfus and 15-year-old Tony Stoltzfus.

“I think that farms and our music share a sense of unity,” Emily says. “Farms are usually run by families or by friends, and they must all work together to be the most productive. With music, everyone has to stay with the rhythm, and all of the harmonies and parts come together to form a song.”

“I feel very at home in venues like Weaver’s Orchard because our music fits well with the overall atmosphere,” says Grace.

“The lyric content also matches the farming culture, especially cover songs like ‘Grandma’s Featherbed’ by John Denver and ‘From This Valley’ by the Civil Wars,” Grace adds.

“I like the fact that we’re supporting a local farm,” Emily says about performing at Weaver’s Orchard. “Farms are how we survive, and some people take all of the work that farmers do for granted. I think it’s great that we are able to support them in this way. It’s important that people learn where their food comes from and to let those at farms know that their work is appreciated.”

Courtesy of Darren Horst and Kevin McCulley
Courtesy of Darren Horst and Kevin McCulley

Darren Horst of Lititz, Lancaster County, and Kevin McCulley of Quakertown, Bucks County, are the juggling duo known as the DKers.

Horst and McCulley performed at Weaver’s Orchard on September 26, and by popular demand, will be back again on Saturday, October 31.

They’ve been juggling together professionally since the seventh grade and are now in their late 20s.

While their gigs are considered juggling, they incorporate a lot more complex movement, color and even the spinning and sharing of their hats in their performances, and they often join plenty of wit into their programs.

Horst describes their routines as “insightful, funny and amazing all rolled into one.”

McCulley notes that different songs from pop culture’s past are played as he and Horst work together; the routines are matched to the movement and sounds they hear onstage.

And the unexpected humor along with the mapped moves and synchronicity between them capture crowds easily.

“I am happy to be supporting a farm venue like Weaver’s Orchard,” Horst says. “I know that farming in general can be tough these days, but it’s very important to the community, so I would hope that they would get nothing but positive support. I especially like going to local farm produce stands to buy fruits and vegetables.”

Christopher Burkholder -- courtesy of Jamie Ink
Courtesy of Jamie Ink

Singer-songwriter Christopher Burkholder of Morgantown is playing at Weaver’s Orchard on Saturday, October 10 and describes his music as having a groove to it, very soulful, with influences from blues, folk, jazz and R&B.

His music is a combination of originals and covers, and his version of “Honey I’m Good” by Andy Grammer seems to stir the fun around more than the pop song getting so much radio play lately.

Burkholder says he views making music much like making a garden, cultivating land and the food we eat.

“It’s definitely a very peaceful thing at farms and wineries,” Burkholder says about playing music at venues different than cafes, clubs and anything based in a more modern structure.

“What you’re cultivating will come through,” as in agriculture also with music, Burkholder says.

Burkholder adds that playing his music at a farm is a way that he can support those who run it, while they support him, in a synergistic sense.

“You’re harvesting something with music, just like growing fruit trees in an orchard,” Burkholder says.

Courtesy of The Zepp Family Band
Courtesy of The Zepp Family Band

The Zepp Family Band of Fleetwood is playing at Weaver’s Orchard on Saturday, October 17 as a part of Fall Family Fun Days.

The Zepp siblings, Bailey Copenhaver, 21; Noah Zepp, 19; Rebekah Zepp, 17; and Shaun Zepp, 15, specialize in bluegrass gospel, traditional bluegrass and some traditional country music.

Their upcoming appearance at Weaver’s Orchard is their second time belting out tunes at Fall Family Fun Days in recent years, but they also play at bluegrass festivals, parks, churches and open mics.

The family has picked fruit at Weaver’s Orchard in the past, too.

“We believe God gives everyone their own gifts, and ours just happened to be music,” Rebekah says. “So we use that music to bless and encourage others.”

And if they are blessing and encouraging those who have come to a farm, that fits their philosophy as well. “It’s nice to know where your food comes from,” Shaun notes.

“A lot of farmers would play old time and bluegrass for fun and entertainment,” Rebekah adds about tying old traditions into newer days.