Current News

 

St. Fidelis Church in Victoria, Kansas was blessed as a minor basilica during a special dedication Mass on June 7, 2014. This is the only basilica in Kansas and the newest named basilica in the United States. To provide a special guided tour of the new basilica, the Ellis County Historical Society and the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau is offering a tour on Saturday August 16th.  The tour will include guided tours to six of the beautiful historic Catholic churches in Ellis County that were built over 100 years ago by the Volga German immigrants. The day will also include a tour of the grotto at Thomas More Prep Marian Jr.-Sr. High School and to see their beautiful new stained glass windows at the TMP chapel. It will be a caravan style tour that will allow individuals or groups to follow along in their own vehicles.

 

8 am                Thomas More Prep Marian Jr. Sr. High School Chapel and Grotto

9 am                St. Catherine Church – Catharine       

9:45 am           St. Fidelis Basilica – Victoria              

11 am              Holy Cross Church – Pfeifer              

12 noon           Lunch at the American Legion                   

1:30 pm           St. Joseph Church - Hays                 

2:45 pm           St. Francis Church - Munjor

3:45 pm           St. Ann - Walker                    

5 pm                Mass at St. Fidelis in Victoria             

 

After the Mass, tour participants are welcome to eat in Victoria, Hays, Russell or stop and see the interesting iron cross grave markers at the St. Fidelis Cemetery north of Victoria.

 

Tour fee $10

Includes guided tours at each location and an Ellis County style Volga German meal at the Hays American Legion.  Call the Ellis County Historical Society Musuem (785-628-2624) before Wednesday August 13th to register. Payment can be made in advance by check or through a credit card or Pay Pal transaction.

 

After you register, an email confirmation will be sent to you with a map showing the location of Thomas More Prep Marian Jr. Sr. High School (1701 Hall Street).

All cars will follow the lead car from each location on the tour route.

 

Map link to Hays

 

Questions about the tour - visitors@elliscountyhistoricalsociety.org

 

 

Archive of press releases

 

March 18, 2014

The 4th Annual Harold Dorzweiler Cancer Memorial Fund Polka Fest poster is now available for distribution. The Dorzweiler Family is getting the posters out early this year to remind familes about the Cancer Memorial Fund.  The actual Polka Fest will be held on September 20-21, 2014 at the Ellis County Fairground – Hays, Kansas.

 

The polka music begins at 11 am on Saturday September 20, with the local polka bands playing the region’s best polkas, waltzes and schottische dancing favorites. Good old fashioned Ellis County German food will be served and a traditional Volga German Catharine wedding dinner will be served on Sunday.  On Sunday at 10:30 am, Father Earl Befort and the Catherine and Victoria Choirs will have a Polka Mass.

 

A beer garden will be set and no membership is required. All are welcome to attend.  This is a fundraiser for cancer patients and their families and donations can also be made at the Bank of Hays for the Harold Dorzweiler Memorial Fund.

 

Please call 785-625-5256 for additional information.

 

 

Harold Dorzweiler Cancer Memorial Fund

Harold Dorzweiler was the band leader of the Country Dutchman Polka Band which played every year at the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He loved farming and working for his parents’ company, Cattlemen’s Oil Company. When Harold was diagnosed with cancer, the family made many trips to the KU Medical Center for treatment. While there, they witnessed the great need of other families who could not afford lodging, fuel or expenses while traveling for cancer treatment. Harold said he would like to help these other families if possible. After his death in September 2010, the Harold Dorzweiler Cancer Memorial Fund was established. The fund and the annual Polka Fest was set up to honor his memory and give other families the chance to travel and stay with their loved ones going through the cancer treatments. 100% of the proceeds go to help people who have cancer and need assistance.

 

The fund has helped over 40 families to date and applications are accepted through-out the year. The application process is simple and the application form can be obtained by calling Janie Dorzweiler – 785-625-5256.    

  

February 3, 2014

The annual German Mardi Gras is on February 15, 2014 at the Unrein Building at the Ellis County Fairgrounds – Hays, KS

 

St. Catherine Church 11th Annual German Mardi Gras

February 15, at the Unrein Building at the Ellis Co. Fairgrounds

Social is at 5, dinner at 6, dance from 7-11 with music provided by Wes Windholz Polka Band

Advanced tickets are required and need to be purchased by Feb 8th.

Come dressed in your Mardi Gras costume and get your face painted.

For tickets contact Larry Dreiling at 785-650-1111

 Glenda Schuetz

St Catherine Church

Home: 785-625-5478

Work: 785-623-6337

Cell: 785 - 650-1746

alcatraz@ruraltel.net

 

 

October 18, 2013

St. Catherine Christian Mothers/Altar Society Bake Sale

Saturday, November 9, 2013 from 10:00 a.m to 2 p.m. in the Center Court of The Mall in Hays (near JC Penneys). Featuring the traditional Spitzbuben and Herzen (Hearts) along with a variety of other baked treats.  For more information, call Doris at 785-735-2578 or Cheryl at 785- 628-2767. Cheryl Schmeidler - cschmeid@hotmail.com

  

 

September 19, 2013
The 41st Annual Oktoberfest will be celebrated on Friday, Oct. 4, at Frontier Park in Hays. Meanwhile, Fort Hays State University will celebrate its annual Homecoming from Oct. 2 through 6. The twin events draw many thousands of local and out-of-town visitors each year.

The local Oktoberfest sprang more than four decades ago from the combined efforts of Fort Hays State University, the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce and county residents who shared a German ancestry. The idea was to create an event to celebrate the essence of the community and complement the university's Homecoming. It was intended to be the ideal town-gown partnership. After the Volga German Society was organized a few years later, it took over management of Oktoberfest, with continuing assistance from the university and the chamber. More recently, the Ellis County Historical Society has become involved.

For the second year, the historical society will sponsor "Honor our Heritage" activities as part of Oktoberfest. Last year those activities were offered in a separate venue north of the dike in Frontier Park, but organizers learned that some people, especially older folks, found the dike to be too much of a physical barrier.

"By having us all together, we hope it will facilitate seeing everything," explained Donald Westfall, executive director of the historical society.

The idea of providing a family-friendly, alcohol-free experience at Oktoberfest will continue, but the separation will be in time rather than place. The historical society will offer its activities in and around two large tents on the Oktoberfest grounds. The "heritage" activities begin at 8:30 a.m., which means parents can bring their children and enjoy a beer-free zone until the Oktoberfest keg is tapped at 11:30 a.m.

The activities will continue throughout the day. The historical demonstrations will include corn shelling by Ed Breir, soap making by Judy Walker, rug hooking by Pat Albrecht, saddle making by Will Johnson and goat milking by Coraleen Bunner. Historical interpretations will include Abraham Lincoln by Steve Burns, Wild Bill Hickok by Dave Wood, Elizabeth Custer by Jaime Schlesinger, Alexander Ramsey by John Trabert, a cavalry trooper by Rob Wasinger and a German immigrant farmer by Nolan Sump (afternoon only). Free draft-horse wagon rides will be provided by Bob Denning from 9 a.m. to noon starting south of the bridge over Big Creek. More activities may yet be added.

The Oktoberfest will continue with beer, music, food and booths until the last keg is tapped at 5:45 p.m.

 

 

HAYS, Kan. 9-25-12

Expanded Oktoberfest  - Addition of the "Honor our Heritage" venue provides a family-friendly, alcohol-free option

 

When it celebrates its 40th year on Friday, Oct. 5, the Ellis County Oktoberfest will be bigger and better than ever.

The local Oktoberfest sprang four decades ago from the combined efforts of Fort Hays State University, the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce and county residents who shared a German ancestry. The idea was to create an event to celebrate the essence of the community and complement the university's Homecoming. It was intended to be the ideal town-gown partnership. After the Volga German Society was organized a few years later, it took over management of Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest began in downtown Hays, but large crowds soon required that it be relocated to the city park on south Main Street. The combined Oktoberfest-Homecoming festivities have swelled from the original two days to four -- from Thursday through Sunday -- with many thousands of local and out-of-town visitors each year.

Now another organization -- the Ellis County Historical Society -- has joined the team, and the continuing spirit of cooperation will produce an expanded Oktoberfest in two adjoining venues. The original Oktoberfest will continue with beer, music, food and booths in Frontier Park, and the alcohol-free and more family-friendly Honor our Heritage venue, celebrating the history and traditions of Ellis County, will be added immediately north of the dike in Municipal Park.

"There was so much potential that was not being realized," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president and one of the leaders of the expansion. "Oktoberfest is an iconic German tradition, and given the majority influence of German descendants in all facets of our local community, it only made sense to emphasize that heritage with special demonstrations and activities. Fortunately, Don Westfall and the Historical Society were willing to take on the task of organizing the new venue."

President Hammond also tipped his hat to Eagle Communications of Hays, which has stepped up to be the one and only corporate sponsor for Oktoberfest. "With Eagle, we have the resources we needed to expand, and by having a single generous sponsor, it keeps the process simple," he said.

"Eagle Communications is honored to be a part of the 40th Oktoberfest celebration in Hays," said Gary Shorman, CEO of Eagle Communications. "The event showcases the traditions of Ellis County, and Eagle has been a local tradition since KAYS radio came on the air in 1948. We know it is a great partnership with these organizations to celebrate Ellis County's heritage."
 
Eagle will broadcast Oktoberfest coverage live on KAYS and HaysPost.com from the park beginning at 7 a.m. with the Eagle Morning Show with Boomer and Mike. Other Eagle personalities will broadcast throughout the afternoon. Festival goers who stop by Eagle’s booths in both Municipal Park and Frontier Park will have opportunities to register for prizes, including an iPad, and have their photo taken to be included on Eagle’s Facebook page. One lucky person will win $50 in cash

Activities and demonstrations at the Honor our Heritage venue will open at 9 a.m. on Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the Hays Chamber, featuring a variety of speakers, including clergy, and a patriotic song by Jackie Maxwell. Morning events, which are aimed at the schoolchildren who will be attending, include demonstrations of butter churning, corn shelling, rug braiding, soap making, goat milking, wool spinning, saddle making and wheat weaving. Westfall said organizers were especially pleased that local schools, including Hays High, TMP-Marian and FHSU, would participate by providing musical performances.

The afternoon activities at the Honor our Heritage venue will include presentations and reenactments on such topics as Boot Hill, the 7th Cavalry, Elizabeth Custer, Wild Bill Hickok and Abraham Lincoln. The closing ceremony at 5:30 will include music by Joe Dolezal.

"We are pleased to be a part of this and help represent the rich history of Ellis County through our historical presenters," said Donald Westfall, executive director of the Historical Society. "We look forward to the continuation of the relationship with the other participating organizations."
                               
The opening ceremony south of the dike will begin at 11 a.m. It will include the tapping of the first keg, music by Joe Dolezal and a juggling performance.

"Everyone at the Chamber is honored to be part of this community tradition," said Tammy Wellbrock, executive director. "We all miss Francis Schippers, who played such a key role for so many years, and we are proud to continue our association with his sister Eleanor Schippers and the Volga German Society. It's more than an event for many people in Ellis County; it's their passion. The spirit of the German settlers continues to be seen in many ways, including Oktoberfest, which is such a unifying annual event for both current and former citizens." 
 

The first major public event to kick off the four days of Oktoberfest/Homecoming is the bonfire rally at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, on the east lawn of the Robbins Center on the FHSU campus.

The four days of activities will formally conclude with a Polka Mass from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday at the Kansas National Guard Armory.

For a full schedule of Homecoming events and ticket information, visit http://goforthaysstate.com or call 785-628-4430. A complete schedule of events for the Oktoberfest celebration is available at www.haysoktoberfest.com.

"The partnership of Oktoberfest and Homecoming has a four-decade record of success, and we know this year's expanded version will build on that proud history," President Hammond said. "In future years, we plan to expand it further by starting a day earlier and working with the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau to attract bus tours for new Wednesday and Thursday activities."

University Relations
Fort Hays State University

204 Sheridan Hall - 600 Park St.
Hays, KS 67601
(785) 628-4206 general line
(785) 628-4480 NEWS
(785) 628-4152 (fax)
universityrelations@fhsu.edu

 

 

March 30, 2012

Victoria, Kansas

A new tourism brochure is now available that promotes the attractions, points of interest, dining and shopping options available in Victoria. Located just 8 miles east of Hays and south of Interstate-70 at exit 168, Victoria’s population is 1,214. For a small town, there are actually quite a few interesting sights to see and historical attractions. The tall twin steeples of St. Fidelis Church can be seen from I-70 and attracts thousands of visitors from across the United States. It was named one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas in 2008, and is open daily for self guided tours. Other Volga German attractions and sights to see in Victoria include the iron crosses at St. Fidelis cemetery, Capuchin Franciscan Friars Sculpture, Volga German Immigrant Statue and the St. Fidelis Gift Shop.

Click here to download the brochure, or call 785-735-2259 to request a brochure.

 

 

 

  

 

September 6, 2011

Guests from New Ulm, Minnesota to attend Oktoberfest

Each year at the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest, there have been special guests from many places around the world who brought a special German flavor to the festivities. This year Leo Dorzweiler, chairman of the fest, will welcome Gary and Ann Wiltscheck of New Ulm, Minnesota, two of the guests among bus loads of out of area visitors and local enthusiasts of the annual event. Gary Wiltscheck is a fifth generation American German Bohemian, whose ancestors emigrated from the Egerland area of Bohemia, which is now part of the western rim of the Czech Republic. New Ulm was settled in 1854 by Wuertemberg Germans and German-Bohemians. A few of these immigrants relocated near Ellis, Kansas. Gary is a Viet Nam veteran who retired from a career in electrical engineering.  He has been active in the Brown County Historical Society and the German Bohemian Heritage Society. He is currently Treasurer and a Board Member of the GBHS. He has just authored a book on the U.S. - Dakota War entitled "The Leavenworth Rescue Expedition Revisited."

 One of many German heritage connections between Ellis County and New Ulm recently came to our attention by way of numerous news articles about a priest who served as an early missionary in Minnesota as well as being the first resident priest in Ellis County. Rev. Valentine Sommereisen was ordained in Minnesota after emigrating from the German-speaking region of Alsace in France. Due to his pioneering service, the residents of New Ulm dedicated a monument to him, which includes the notation that his last service was in Hays, Kansas with burial in the St. Joseph Cemetery. The memorial plaque also noted his service as a chaplain to Gen. George Armstrong Custer in the Yellowstone Expedition of 1873.   Gary contacted Oren Windholz of Hays because of his Volga German heritage for assistance in locating the grave of Rev. Sommereisen, which led to his trip to Hays and attendance at the Oktoberfest 2011. Persons attending the Oktoberfest are welcome to visit with the special guests to discuss common heritage interests.

Oren Windholz  

Hays, KS

785-625-9492

owindholz@ruraltel.net

  

 

September 8, 2010

Oktoberfest Polka dance judge comes from Siberia, Russia.

Hays, Kansas - The annual dance contest that is held in conjunction with the Midwest Deutsches Oktoberfest will have a special guest to help judge the competition this year. Eugene Dorzweiler, from Siberia Russia, will arrive in Hays on Sunday September 18th, just in time to help judge the dance contest at 2 pm. His relatives come from the same area in southern Russia along the Volga River where the Dorzweiler families of Ellis County immigrated from. Although Eugene was born in Siberia in 1971, his great great grandparents were from Katharinenstadt Russia. This is the same village that the ancestors of Leo Dorzweiler came from. Leo is the chairman of the Midwest Deutsches Oktoberfest and made arrangements for Eugene to be one of the judges for the dance contest.

 

Eugene Dorzweiler is currently working in the United States for a firm based out of Chicago. This will be the first time for him to meet many of his American relatives as well participate in an American/German style Oktoberfest. The Midwest Deutsches Oktoberfest begins at 9 am at the Ellis County Fairgrounds on Saturday September 18th and concludes with a polka jam session at 5:30 pm on Sunday. The dance contest encourages the younger participants to try their best polka dancing and earn the right to be crowned the prince and princess at next year’s Oktoberfest. The actual crowing of the 2010 Prince and Princess will be at 1pm on Saturday.  

 

 

August 27, 2010

Germans from Argentina will tap the keg at the Midwest Deutsches Oktoberfest

Hays, Kansas - A special guest from Buenos Aires, Argentina will be in Hays on September 18th to tap the keg at the 9th annual Oktoberfest to be held at the Ellis County Fairgrounds. Carlos Lohrmann who lives in Buenos Aires, is a descendant of the Windholz family who came to Kansas from Herzog, Russia. Carlos and his father Adolfo will celebrate their Windholz family reunion and the 2010 Midwest Deutsches Oktoberfest the weekend of September 17-19. Their original ancestor was Anton Windholz who departed from Regensburg, Germany to Graf, Russia. The family has conducted three reunions since 1994 and this occasion came from a suggestion of a Windholz descendant in Argentina. Oren Windholz from Hays, Kansas has been in contact with Carlos for eight years and they have been corresponding about their ancestors and working on the history of Germans from Russia in Argentina. His grandmother Windholz emigrated to Argentina from the same ancestral village in Russia. About a year ago, Carlos suggested a reunion where he could meet their long distant cousins. His father Alfredo Carlos Lohrmann Windholz has applied for a Visa to join his son at the Oktoberfest and looks forward to visiting with people in the Volga German dialect. The Windholz family reunion is featured on their website www.windholz.us and on Facebook. 

  

 

NEWS RELEASE

DATE: September 8, 2006

You will not want to miss this great family fun weekend September 16 & 17, 2006. Located at the Ellis County Fairgrounds. In the Schenk building, learn the various German histories with speakers and demonstrators such as Music Makes the Family Tree Grow with Larry Weigel. Frank Jacobs will be showing a film of his recent trip of the Volga German Communities in South America; Norma Pipkin will be doing a skit on The Immigrant Woman. German cooking Making Grebbel with Betty Leiker and Delores Pfannenstiel. Jerry Schmidt with Home Sweet Home in Ellis County will be demonstrating and telling about his miniature building. Sunday afternoon, Joe Erbert will be demonstrating the Dulcimer and folk singer & guitar player Steve Parke will be entertaining. Soap Making will be demonstrated by Judy Walker.                                     

Also in the Schenk building, you will find merchandise booths. Come in and see what the different booths have to offer. Don't forget to view the Miniature Buildings on display. On the grounds, you will find German food & beverage booths, crafts, and demonstrations. Other Craft booths will be located in the Commercial building (southwest of the Gold building). Other activities going on will be Kiderspiele (children's games); tractor pulls; threshing machine demos; and miniature horse cart rides. Check out Gold building for polka music; polka dancing, lessons & contest; crowning of the prince & princess; traditional wedding march. Sunday will be the Polka Mass in the Gold building. You can join in the Texas Hold 'Em Tournament and a German meal will be served in the Schenk building. And don’t forget the jam session late afternoon on Sunday. Bring a toy as we are also collecting for Toys for Tots, look for the large trash can marked with signs, in the middle of the Schenk building. Saturday hours are 9:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Sunday hours are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.                                            FREE ADMISSION. FREE PARKING. RV PARKING AVAILABLE.

 

 

 

DATE: September 7, 2005

Oktoberfest scheduled for September 17th & 18th

Hays Kansas – Organizers of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest have announced that several new booths will be featured at the annual German celebration to be held at the Ellis County Fairgrounds on September 17th & 18th. New to the Oktoberfest this year will be a booth selling authentic German imported products!  Sunell Koerner, owner of Hays City Mercantile, has been in contact with several distributors in Germany under the direction of a seasoned import store owner in the United States.  A wide variety of German imports have been ordered from food to clothing to accessories. While these German items will be for sale throughout the year at the Hays City Mercantile located at 809 Main, this new line of German import products will first be unveiled at the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest.

 

Jeremy Dannebohm, Co-Chairman of the Oktoberfest applauded this announcement by saying, “The Hays City Mercantile is providing something to our community that is long overdue. As the German Capital of Kansas, it seems natural that we should have some sort of German import shop available for visitors. This is a win-win for everybody! A win for the Hays City Mercantile, a win for downtown, a win for the tourists and a win for the German People of Ellis County. I take great delight in announcing that this new product line will be unveiled during the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest September 17th & 18th as thousands of lovers of “all things German” will make their way to the Ellis County Fairgrounds for a weekend of German heritage unsurpassed in the region. As we continue to raise the bar of excellence for the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest, we stand behind Sunell Koerner and Ken Fitch, who are raising the bar for businesses of this city to have increased pride in what makes Hays so incredible, namely our rich German heritage.”

 

Messenger, a local bookstore and gift shop will feature Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI items in their booth. In addition to the books, t-shirts, Polka rosary CD’s and cassettes, other Papel souvenirs will be available including Papal Steins, Papal Portraits, books and Holy Cards. In April of 2005, Germans from all over the world rejoiced at the news of the election of the first German Pope in over 1,000 years. This year, the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest plans to commemorate Pope Benedict XVI at the Oktoberfest. Several hundred Papal Steins have already been sold and more will be available for purchase at the Oktoberfest. These steins can also be purchase on-line.

 

In addition, St. Fidelis Parish of Victoria will have a booth featuring rosaries, cookbooks, cathedral throw rugs and St. Fidelis souvenirs. There will also be approximately 40 other booths providing crafts, food, refreshments and homemade products. Food booths will include Kettle corn, galuushkies, baked bread and sweet treats, funnel cakes, brats, BBQ beef sandwiches, green bean and dumpling soup, BBQ ribs and the traditional favorite – beirocks. Local clubs and organizations will have German sausage, homemade jellies and jams, kuchen, spitzbuben, sauerkraut, noodles and beans, cinnamon rolls, smoked meats, and dumplings.

 

Activities begin with polka music by Joe Dolezal at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. The opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. include the singing of the National Anthem by Margie Broeckelman from Oakley.

 

A tractor pull is always good family entertainment and it was added to the schedule again this year. On site registration will be held from 9-11 a.m. with the event to begin at 12 noon on Saturday. All vintage tractors from 1959 and older will be allowed to pull with division I, II & III rules applying. Classes will be from 3500-10,000 pounds in 500 increments. The entry fee will be $5 per hook and all money will be paid to the 1st and 2nd place in each respective class. There will also be an antique car, truck, tractor and machinery show on both days. Antique engines and demonstrations of antique machinery, tractors and farm equipment will be held throughout the weekend. A popular event last year was the wheat threshing demonstration.  This year a 1940’s vintage John Deere 22 x 36 thresher powered by a John Deere 1948-D  will be full operation on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The wheat comes from the Mel Sauer farm near Antonino and horse drawn teams will bring the bound wheat in for threshing. For more information about the tractor pull, antique machinery show or wheat threshing call Larry Dreiling – 785-650-1111 or John Dreiling – 785-650-7728.

 

The polka bands featured for the two-day festival are Olmar Wittman & the Polkaneers, Country Dutchman, Joe Dolezal, The Herrmanettes and the Ed Pfeifer Band. The bands will play continuous music throughout the celebration. 

 

A polka mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday September 18th at the Gold building located at the Ellis County Fairgrounds. In the traditional polka mass celebration, all the songs and hymns will be preformed in the familiar polka style of music. Mass will be celebrated by Father Peter Mies, OFM, Cap, a native of Catharine, Kansas and now doing missionary work in Papua New Guinea.

 

An event open to all ages is the skillet throwing competition. This will be held on Sunday at 2 pm. Competitors will see how far they can throw an old cast iron skillet in a fun event dating back to when the women of the home needed to keep the man of the house in line.

 

For more information about the 4th annual Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest, contact: Leo Dorzweiler 785-625-5394.

 

 

 

DATE: August 25, 2005

Oktoberfest will include Wuensching and cooking classes

Hays Kansas – A traditional Deutsche Oktoberfest is planned for September 17-18, 2005 at the Ellis County Fair Grounds and The Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association has added several new events this year including Wuensching. The custom of Wuensching (Wishing) on New Years Day is one of the most popular holiday traditions among the Volga German people. It was a day of enjoyment for the entire family and in preparation for the fun day, the children went to bed early on New Years eve because the next morning, even before sun-up, the children began making their rounds to aunts, uncles and neighbors in their community. The children had to wuensch the New Year’s Day wish in German, because if it was said in English, that did not count. After reciting the German wish for a long life, good health, peace and harmony, eternal happiness after death and a Happy New Year, the response would be Ses Wuenschich dir aach. (I wish you the same)  Children ages 5 to 15 can earn a prize at the Oktoberfest  by learning this traditional New Years Day wish and coming to the Schenk building from 1-3 pm on Saturday September 17th  to Weunsch (in German) for Richard Dorzweiler, event coordinator. 

 

Ich wuensch euch ion Glueckseliges neues Jahr, langes Leben, Gesundthelt Friede und Eingkeit, noch Eurem Tot, die ewige, Gluckseligkeit!

 

Another new event will feature hands-on cooking lessons. Ellis County German cooks will teach the participants how to make recipes that were handed down from their ancestors.  Norma Dorzweiler will have a Bierock making demonstration. Bierocks are a local favorite food and those attending the free class may want to get dough on their hands as they help prepare, shape and bake these delicious meat pockets. Hertzen (hearts) cookie making demonstration, will be a class taught by Bernie Schumacher. Participants will help mix, shape and bake these famous heart shaped cinnamon delicacies. Norma Dorzweiler will also show how to make Green bean dumpling soup. This delicious meatless soup was a staple for Fridays and days of fasting in most German households. Another well know German cook is

Betty Froelich, with the Gorham Café. She and her daughter Dee will be showing how to prepare some of their favorite dishes. Samples from all of the cooking demonstrations will be available.

 

Other activities will include: a polka dance contest and selection of the 2006 prince and Princess, wheat threshing demonstration, a laundry demonstration, Texas Hold Em and Black Jack tournaments, skillet throwing competition and a tractor pull.

 

For more information about the 4th annual Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest, contact: Leo Dorzweiler 785-625-5394.

 

  

DATE: September 3, 2004                                                                                       

Oktoberfest adds new events

Hays Kansas - Organizers of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest have announced that several new events will be featured at the annual German celebration to be held at the Ellis County Fairgrounds on September 18th and 19th.  New to the Oktoberfest this year will be a Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting, Quilting demonstrations, a 10k Volksmarch, free horse drawn hayrack rides, Stimmhafter Wettkampf (media competition) and Tough Trucks sponsored by the Ellis County Fair Board.

 

Activities begin with the Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting ceremony at 9:30 am followed by polka music by Joe Dolezal on Saturday.  The opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. include the German Singers, the official welcome and tapping of the keg to start the two-day festival.

 

A new activity this year is the Stimmhafter Wettkampf, which translated to English means media competition. "This will be a great way for the local and regional media to get involved with our fest," said Leo Dorzweiler, co-chair of the Oktoberfest.  "They (the media) have done a great job of reporting on our festival and have interviewed us for news stories about how we promote our German Heritage.  We wanted to take the opportunity this year to provide an official invitation to the media to join us, celebrate with our polka music and be involved in these fun German games," explained Dorzweiler.  The idea to have a Stimmhafter Wettkampf, came about this spring to extend an invitation to the local and regional media personalities to participate in the dancing, games and contests such as the skillet throwing competition.  Media outlets including the local newspapers, TV and radio stations have signed up to represent their company and compete in several old style German games.  The two person teams include journalists, radio station personalities and TV reporters.  Although the games will be created to have fun and enjoy the festivities, there is an incentive for each media team to win as many contests as they can.  Prizes will be awarded and a traveling trophy will be presented to the winning team.  The winning media team will also earn the bragging rights as the champion and title of #1 Stimmhafter Wettkampf winner for their company.

 

Approximately 50-60 booths will be providing crafts, food, refreshments and homemade German products.  Vendors from around western Kansas have signed up to attend the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest.  Food booths will include galuskies, baked bread and sweet treats, funnel cakes, brats, BBQ beef sandwiches, green bean and dumpling soup, BBQ ribs and the traditional favorite, beirocks. Local clubs and organizations will have German sausage, homemade jellies and jams, kuchen, spitzbuben, sauerkraut, noodles and beans, cinnamon rolls, smoked meats, and dumplings.

 

A tractor pull is always good family entertainment and it was added to the schedule last year.  On site registration will be held from 1-3 pm with the event to begin at 3:30 pm on Saturday.  All vintage tractors from 1959 and older will be allowed to pull with division I with 18" maximum hitch height rules applying. Classes will be from 2000-10,000 pounds in 500 increments.  The entry fee will be $5 per hook and all money will be paid to the 1st and 2nd place in each respective class. There will also be an antique car, truck, tractor and machinery show on both days. Antique engines and demonstrations of antique machinery, tractors and farm equipment will be held throughout the weekend. A popular event last year was the wheat threshing demonstration.  This year a 1940's vintage John Deere 22 x 36 thresher powered by a John Deere 1948-D owned by Lawrence J. Dreiling will be in full operation on both days at 1 p.m.  The wheat comes from a local Ellis County farm, and horse drawn teams will bring the bound wheat in for threshing. For more information about the tractor pull, antique machinery show or wheat threshing call Larry Dreiling - 785-650-1111 or John Dreiling - 785-650-7728.

 

The Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association will be providing shuttle bus transportation from the parking lot to the front door of the Schenk building for those who might find it difficult to walk through the parking lot.  Drivers may drop off senior citizens at the festival grounds and then catch the shuttle bus from the parking lot.  Golf cart rides will also be available for those that need assistance in getting around the festival grounds.

 

The polka bands featured for the two-day festival are Olmar Wittman & the Polkaneers, Country Dutchman, Joe Dolezal, The Hermanetts and the Ed Pfeifer Band.  The bands will play continuous music throughout the celebration.  Polka dance lessons will be held on Saturday at 5 p.m.

 

A polka mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday September 19th at the Gold  building located at the Ellis County Fairgrounds. In the traditional polka mass celebration, all the songs and hymns will be preformed in the familiar polka style of music.  Mass will be celebrated by Father Earl Befort.

 

Other activities for Sunday include: 1 p.m. Dance contest and selection of the 2005 Prince and Princess, 1:30 pm horseshoe tournament, 2 p.m. Kids games and skillet throwing competition, 3 p.m. Tough Trucks.

 

For more information about the 1st annual Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest, contact John Smith 785-628-1040 or Leo Dorzweiler 785-625-5394.

 

- - END - -

 

 

DATE: August 3, 2004                                                                                                          

Success of Oktoberfest creates problems

Hays, Kansas - Too many people.  That is a good problem to have for only the 3rd annual Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest.  Members of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association had to make some tough decisions recently to accommodate the growing crowds that have turned out for the annual Oktoberfest which will be held on September 18-19th.  The problem is with overcrowding in the Schenk building at the Ellis County Fairgrounds.  It is one of the most popular locations for the crowds to gather because of the live polka bands and dancing.  The Sunday morning polka mass has also been held in the Schenk building.  It fills up to capacity and overflows outside the building because so many people want to attend the special mass service that includes songs and hymns  preformed in the familiar polka style of music.  "We just out grew the capacity of Schenk building in only two years," said Leo Dorzweiler, Co-Chairman of the Oktoberfest.  "There is plenty of room at the fairgrounds for everyone to enjoy the fest, but the packed dance floor and seating inside the Schenk building needed to be looked into".   A special meeting was held to discuss the options and consider switching the polka dancing and live bands to the Gold Building and relocating the craft booths to the Schenk building.   Both buildings are basically the same size, but the layout of the Gold building allows more usable and open square footage to be gained for the dance floor and seating for the polka mass. "We had to decide something quick before our brochures went to print and to let all of the vendors and bands know that we were trying to improve the situation with the crowded dance floor," indicated John Smith, Chairman of the association.  "I'm sure the dance floor will still be packed even in the Gold Building," commented Dorzweiler, "People just want to dance! But at least we can try to accommodate more people inside the Gold building.  It is a great problem to have.  So many families want to come out and enjoy the Oktoberfest".

 

Polka music will begin in the Gold building at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday Sept 18th with the Joe Dolezal polka band.  Craft vendors will be set up in the Schenk building at 10:30 a.m. and will include homemade items, baked goods and various arts and crafts.  The Opening Ceremonies and German Singers kickoff the festival at 10 a.m. followed by the crowning of the 2004 Prince and Princess and a traditional wedding march at 1 p.m.

 

A polka mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday at the Gold Building. Other activities for Sunday include a dance contest, horseshoe tournament, skillet throwing and wheat threshing.

 

For more information about the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest, contact John Smith 785-628-1040 or Leo Dorzweiler 785-625-5394.

 

- -  END - -

 

 

 

 

DATE: September 5, 2003                                                                                                   

New events scheduled for Oktoberfest

Hays Kansas - Organizers of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest have announced that several new events will be featured at the annual German celebration to be held at the Ellis County Fairgrounds on September 20th and 21st.  New to the Oktoberfest this year will be a tractor pull, strudel making demonstrations, fashion show, antique truck and tractor exhibit, and a Genealogy room with German books and related material.

 

Activities begin with polka music by Joe Dolezal at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.  The opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. include the Singing of the National Anthem by Debi Moore - Mrs. Kansas International, a German welcome by  Michael Augustin from Leonberg, Germany and a ceremony which will officially crown Ellis County as the German Capital of Kansas. Dr. William Keel from Lawrence, Kansas will do a Schnitzelbank and the Hays High International Club will sing traditional German Songs.  Polka music by The Herrmanetts will follow the tapping of the keg to start the two-day festival.

 

A new activity this year is the Genealogy and German book room located in The Schenk building. Genealogists and computers will be available for people to research ancestry.  Many books, genealogical publications and German material will be on hand.  At 1 p.m. on Saturday in the Commercial Exhibit Building will be a strudel making demonstration.  Irene Zerfas and other ladies of Bukovina German heritage will demonstrate making Apple Strudel, a German delicacy that was passed down through the generations.  They will demonstrate how they roll, form and wave a piece of dough into a razor thin blanket, then slice and fold in the apple mix.

 

A Fashion Show featuring the attire of early day German pioneers will be held at 3:00 p.m. Saturday in the Commercial Exhibit Building. The Honas family wedding dress, over a hundred years old and brought from Bukovina, Austria, will be displayed.  Wedding dresses and Sunday clothing from the Rathbun family worn by the Bukovina Germans at the turn of the century will be modeled and displayed.  Other clothing of the period will be presented from the Ellis County Historical Society collection.  One modern entry is a formal Romanian ladies outfit worn today in the former Bukovina crownland, now a part of Romania.

 

New kids games will be provided that actually date back to the 1880's.  A Wuensching (wishing) booth and other traditional Volga-German games will be held on Saturday at 2 p.m.  A new event open to all ages is the skillet throwing competition.  Competitors will see how far they can throw an old cast iron skillet in a fun event dating back to when the women of the home needed to keep the man of the house in line.

 

A tractor pull is always good family entertainment and it was added to the schedule this year.  On site registration will be held from 9-11 a.m. with the event to begin at 12 noon on Saturday.  All vintage tractors from 1959 and older will be allowed to pull with division I, II & III rules applying. Classes will be from 3500-10,000 pounds in 500 increments.  The entry fee will be $5 per hook and all money will be paid to the 1st and 2nd place in each respective class. There will also be an antique car, truck, tractor and machinery show on both days. Antique engines and demonstrations of antique machinery, tractors and farm equipment will be held throughout the weekend. A popular event last year was the wheat threshing demonstration.  This year a 1940¡¦s vintage John Deere 22 x 36 thresher powered by a John Deere 1948-D  will be full operation on both days at 3 p.m.  The wheat comes from the Mel Sauer farm near Antonino and horse drawn teams will bring the bound wheat in for threshing. For more information about the tractor pull, antique machinery show or wheat threshing call Larry Dreiling - 785-650-1111 or John Dreiling - 785-650-7728.

 

Approximately 40-50 booths will be providing crafts, food, refreshments and homemade German products.  Vendors from around western Kansas have signed up to attend the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest.  Food booths will include Kettle corn, galuskies, baked bread and sweet treats, funnel cakes, brats, BBQ beef sandwiches, green bean and dumpling soup, BBQ ribs and the traditional favorite, beirocks. Local clubs and organizations will have German sausage, homemade jellies and jams, kuchen, spitzbuben, sauerkraut, noodles and beans, cinnamon rolls, smoked meats, and dumplings.

 

The Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association will be providing shuttle bus transportation from the parking lot to the front door of the Schenk building for those who might find it difficult to walk through the parking lot.  Drivers may drop of senior citizens at the festival grounds and then they catch the shuttle bus from the parking lot.  Golf cart rides will also be available for those that need assistance in getting around the festival grounds.

 

The polka bands featured for the two-day festival are Olmar Wittman & the Polkaneers, Country Dutchman, Joe Dolezal, The Hermanetts and the Ed Pfeifer Band.  The bands will play continuous music throughout the celebration.  "We had such a good time with all the local polka bands getting together for the 125th Volga German Celebration, that we wanted to build on that," said Leo Dorzweiler.  "It provides a good old fashioned celebration that families, senior citizens and the younger generation will be able to come out and enjoy.  If you have never learned how to polka dance, this festival would be a great opportunity to learn". Polka dance lessons will be held on Saturday at 5 p.m.

 

A polka mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday September 21st at the Schenk building located at the Ellis County Fairgrounds. In the traditional polka mass celebration, all the songs and hymns will be preformed in the familiar polka style of music.  Mass will be celebrated by Father Kevin Weber.

 

Other activities for Sunday include: 11 a.m. Horseshoe Tournament, 11:30 a.m. Walker Army Airfield presentation by Steve Arthur,  1 p.m. Dance contest and selection of the 2004 Prince and Princess; 2 p.m. Kids games and skillet throwing competition, 3:30 p.m. wheat threshing demonstration.

 

For more information about the 2nd annual Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest, contact John Smith 785-628-1040 or Leo Dorzweiler 785-625-5394.

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE

DATE: August 25, 2003                                                                                

National German organizations recognize Ellis County as the official German Capital of Kansas

 

Hays, Kansas - Ellis County has always had a strong German Heritage and a history of German traditions that dates back to 1876.  Now the German Heritage of the Ellis County communities will become more well known by other residents of Kansas and visitors to the Sunflower State.  On September 20th, a ceremony will be held during the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest that will proclaim Ellis County as the official German Capital of Kansas.  This important event in the history of Ellis County is scheduled to coincide with the opening ceremonies of the annual Oktoberfest. Local politicians, community leaders and officers of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association will attend the ceremony that will begin at 10 a.m.

 

Two national German organizations have recently recognized Ellis County as the German Capital of Kansas.  The Germans from Russia Heritage Society and the Bukovina Society of the Americas have provided letters of support and certificates to endorse this title for Ellis County.  In a letter of support from Aloys Feist, the president of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society, it was noted, "The annual ethnic German events and community celebrations far exceed those of any other counties in Kansas". The Germans from Russia Heritage Society is a national organization with headquarters in Bismark, North Dakota.  Its purpose is to bring people together who are interested in discovering the common history unique to Germanic Russian ethnic groups and to preserve the many elements of their rich heritage.  The society serves its membership in various ways including educational and social opportunities, research, publications and historical preservation.  Membership information is available by contacting the society at GRHS - 1125 West Turnpike Ave - Bismark, ND 58501-8115.

 

Many of the citizens of Ellis County and surrounding communities are descendants of German immigrants who came from the Volga River region of Russia.  These settlers were people who migrated from Germany to Russia following the end of the Seven Years War in 1763.  In October and November of 1875, many of these immigrants left their villages along the Volga River and traveled to Saratov, Russia to begin their journey to America.  The first Volga Germans arrived in Hays in the middle of February 1876.  The communities of Catherine, Herzog, Pfeifer, Munjor, and Schoenchen were settled during the spring and summer of 1876.

 

Another group of German immigrants arrived in Ellis, Kansas from what was known as Bukovina, which is currently part of Romania and the Ukraine.  These settlers were people who migrated from Germany to Bukovina in the late 1700's and early 1800's. After one to two generations of living in Bukovina, land became scarce and many of the German immigrants came to the United States as well as Canada and South America. In 1886, the first Bukovina Germans arrived in Ellis, Kansas and acted as scouts for a larger group that settled there in 1887.

 

The Bukovina Society of the Americas has also provided letters of support and certificates endorsing the ceremony that will proclaim Ellis County as the German Capital of Kansas.  "We whole-heartedly endorse this activity for the continued promotion of our German traditions, music, food and language for future generations to be proud of".  The Board of Directors of the Bukovina Society will attend the opening ceremonies to sign and present the certificates to the officers of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association.

 

The Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest is an annual celebration of German traditions, food, music and family fun. Festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 20th.  The polka music of Joe Dolezal will kick off the celebration.  At 10 a.m., the traditional German welcome, tapping of the keg and the German Capital of Kansas ceremony will take place.  Admission to attend the two day celebration is free and includes activities such as: wheat threshing demonstrations, a fashion show, polka dance lessons, horseshoe tournament, skillet throwing competition, strudel making and a polka mass.

 

- - END - -

 

 

PRESS RELEASE

DATE: April 7, 2003                                                                                      

 

Ellis County to become official German Capital of Kansas

 

Hays, Kansas - Shortly after the final presentations and polka songs were played to conclude the activities for the German Heritage Days the weekend of April 4-6th, invitations were mailed to the newly elected commissioners in Hays, Ellis, Victoria and other politicians to attend a special ceremony proclaiming Ellis County as the "German Capital of Kansas".   Various city and county officials as well as state representatives have been invited to participate in this event which will be held on Saturday, September 20, 2003.  Ellis County and the city of Hays will be proclaimed the official "German Capital of Kansas".  The ceremony will include local politicians, members of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association as well as several VIP guests that plan to attend the 2nd annual Oktoberfest.  An official proclamation and ceremonial signing of the 2003 Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest certificate will be held prior to the traditional tapping of the keg. 

 

There are several attractions, museums and four or five festivals or events that promote the German traditions and polka music of Ellis County.  Because Hays and the other communities in Ellis County are well known for their German Heritage, organizers of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association felt that the distinction of being "The German Capital of Kansas" would be a wonderful honor to help kick off the Oktoberfest celebration.   This title will not only help with the publicity of the Deutsche Oktoberfest, but other groups that organize German events and polka festivals in Ellis County will be able to use this promotional distinction to help generate exposure for their events.  Many other towns in Kansas promote their heritage to help advertise their communities, and this will allow the local museums, city officials and even businesses to add one more marketing tool to help spotlight the communities in Ellis County.

 

The Oktoberfest celebration will begin at 10 a.m. on September 20th and continue through Sunday, September 21st  with the final polka band jam session from 4-6 p.m. 

 - - END - -

 

 

 

DATE: September 6, 2002                                                               

 

Hays Kansas - A traditional Deutsche Oktoberfest is planned for September 21-22, 2002 at the Ellis County Fair Grounds.  The Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association is organizing this first annual festival.  Individuals from surrounding communities have joined together to organize an Oktoberfest celebration that will be geared more for families and kids but should have a little something for everyone.   The festival kicks off on Saturday at 10 a.m. with Opening Ceremonies and German Singers.  A horseshoe tournament is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. followed by the crowning of the 2002 Prince and Princess and a traditional wedding march at 1 p.m.

 

Other activities will include polka bands, German story telling, games for the kids, German singers and craft booths.  Several dozen vendors and exhibitors are anticipated to be showing their crafts and homemade items. 

 

Of course a traditional Oktoberfest would not be complete with out the food booths and good German cooking.  Local clubs and organizations will have German brats, funnel cakes, sausage, bierocks, homemade jellies and jams, kuchen, spitzbuben, sauerkraut, green bean and noodle soup, cinnamon rolls, smoked meats, and dumplings.

 

The polka bands featured for the two-day festival are Olmar Wittman & the Polkaneers, Country Dutchman, Hermanetts and the Ed Pfeifer Band.  The bands will play continuous music throughout the celebration. "We had such a good time with all the local polka bands getting together for the 125th Volga German Celebration, that we wanted to build on that," said Leo Dorzweiler.  "It provides a good old fashioned celebration that families, senior citizens and the younger generation will be able to come out and enjoy.  If you have never learned how to polka dance, this festival would be a great opportunity to learn". Polka dance lessons will be held on Saturday at 5 p.m.

 

A polka mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday September 22, 2002 at the Schenk building located at the Ellis County Fairgrounds. In the traditional polka mass celebration, all the songs and hymns will be preformed in the familiar polka style of music.

 

Other activities for Sunday include: 1 p.m. Dance contest and selection of the 2003 Prince and Princess; 2:30 p.m. - corn shelling demonstration;

3 p.m. - wheat threshing demonstration.

 

For more information about the 1st annual Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest, contact John Smith 785-628-1040 or Leo Dorzweiler 785-625-5394.

 

-- END --

 

 

PRESS RELEASE

DATE: July 24, 2002                                                                                     

           

Hays Kansas - The Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association have finalized plans for a Polka Mass that will held during the 1st annual Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest.  The polka mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday September 22, 2002 at the Schenk building located at the Ellis County Fairgrounds.  In the traditional polka mass celebration, all the songs and hymns will be preformed in the familiar polka style of music.  Arrangements have been made to have the local polka band Country Dutchman play for this mass.  They are a 6 piece band that includes musicians Ray Basgall from LaCrosse, Jerry Brungardt-Garden City, Harold Dorzweiler-Catherine, Lon Palmer- Hoisington, John Stetinger and Mike Stetinger both from Great Bend.   The mass will be celebrated by Kevin Weber from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church-Hays.  The Catherine choir will be singing the hymns. This is the first time a polka mass has been scheduled in conjunction with an Oktoberfest in Hays.  Members of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association felt it was important to plan a polka mass with this festival because the original German immigrants to this area were a deeply religious group. Much of the German heritage that is passed on today, still has very close ties to the church and the religious customs brought over with the early pioneers that built the beautiful churches in the surrounding communities.  For more information about the 1st annual Midwest Deutsch Oktoberfest, contact Leo Dorzweiler  785-625-5394.

 

 


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