Before clothing stores, textile mills and Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, there was linen. The process used at the Flax Scutching Festival in Stahlstown today was the process used by our ancestors in the New World and the Old World: harvesting and drying the flax plant, breaking and scutching for the separation of fibers, hackling/heckling to prepare fibers for spinning into thread and weaving the thread into linen cloth. Traditionally, farming families would gather after the harvest to share the labor-intensive chore of turning flax fibers into linen. These gatherings quickly became social events with food and music. In 1907, local Justice of the Peace, Elmer N. Miller, conceived of an annual reunion to celebrate the valley’s history and homey pleasures. Thus, the Stahlstown Flax Scutching Festival was born. The festival continues to reflect all these rich traditions by drawing upon more than 200 years of oral traditions. At the first festival it was estimated that 1,800 horse-drawn rigs were parked on the grounds.
Since 1907, the quaintness of the festival and events are made to resemble the olden days so that much of the antiquity is captured. In addition to the Flax Demonstration: