Harrisburg ProgramThursday, October 21

A Pennsylvania Dutch Liar’s Contest (Liegner-Maetsch): Humor and Tall Tales in Performance

Thursday, October 21, 3:30 pm–5:00 pm

This live event will not be recorded.

Sponsored by the AFS Local Planning Committee, the Folk Narrative Section

Chair: William Donner (Kutztown University)

David H. Adam ()
Patrick J. Donmoyer (Kutztown University of Pennsylvania)
Kevin Sterner (Independent)

This session features performances of self-deprecating, earthy humor by traditional storytellers in a Pennsylvania Dutch Liegner-Maetsch (Liars Contest). This session presents the region's most experienced "Liars," offering their tall tales in both Pennsylvania Dutch and English. Beginning in the 20th century, speakers of Pennsylvania Dutch language celebrated their cultural identity through large public gatherings called Versammlinge (gatherings), often featuring dialect humor such as jokes, skits, and satirical ceremonies. Versammlinge have become a tradition among the broader, non-sectarian Pennsylvania Dutch community, among the most distinctive of which are Grundsau Lodsche (Groundhog Lodges) and Liegner-Maetsche (Liars Contests). Originally held annually as entertaining banquets throughout Lehigh, Berks, and Lancaster counties, the Liars Contests featured the region's premier dialect humorists who competed to tell the tallest tale. The Liars Contests continue today at the Kutztown Folk Festival, where the events have become part of the region’s heritage language preservation movement.