Lancaster Liederkranz celebrates Sommerfest

By on June 24, 2015

 

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The Lancaster Liederkranz welcomed summer with its annual Sommerfest on Friday and Saturday. Music, singing, traditional German food, men and boys in lederhosen and ladies and girls in dirndls were all part of the festivities at the Manheim area organization.

Paul Stanavage, immediate past president of the organization, said that the Liederkranz has hosted Sommerfest for nearly 22 years.

“It started out as an outdoor Mayfest, but we found that the weather in May was too ‘iffy’, so we switched it to June as Sommerfest,” explained Stanavage. “It’s an opportunity to showcase German culture through food, singing and dancing.”

“Sommerfest is a mini-Oktoberfest, and it’s a way to share German culture with community,” added Liederkranz president Bob Kilp. “Our other main festival is Oktoberfest. It’s the most authentic event in the county that resembles a traditional German Oktoberfest.”

The two-day Sommerfest drew nearly 3,000 people, and vice-president John Blank said that it take an estimated 400 volunteers to host it. Although the event was held on Friday and Saturday, volunteers began as early as Tuesday and Wednesday with prep work for food such as potato pancakes and baked items such as cakes and cookies. Other volunteers organize the fest area, cook and serve food and beverages, collect admission and sell tickets for food and beverage purchases.

German food included potato pancakes, bratwurst, kielbasa, sauerkraut (as a topping, side or sandwich), weisswurst, and potato salad. The Liederkranz Kindergruppe also sold soft pretzels during the evenings.

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Food and drink is an attraction for many who attend the event. Lititz resident Darla Bryant attended with her husband and family members.

“We’ve been looking for a German restaurant. We saw an ad for this event and the German food is what brought us here,” Bryant said Friday evening. “So far it’s been pretty fun.”

“We’ve been coming here for a number of years. We love the atmosphere —the camaraderie and the music,” said Mike Williams of Lancaster.

Music was provided by a number of bands and orchestras as well as the Liederkranz Hobby Chor, an all-male chorus; and the Liederkranz chorus. Performances by Liederkranz dance groups —Alpenrose Schuhplattler Dancers, Kindergruppe Schuhplattlers; and Alleweil Jung German Folk Dancers —were also part of the festivities.

Grace Hanley, a member of the Alpenrose Schuhplattler Dancers, said, “It’s fun to perform. In a way we’re ambassadors of the organization; we always have people asking about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”

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Founded in 1880, the Liederkranz promotes German culture and customs through music, song, dance, art, language and international exchange. It had been headquartered in Lancaster, but the need for more parking and outdoor area prompted the organization to relocate in late 1993 to the former Mount Joy Legion property at 722 S. Chiques Road in Rapho Township.

Located along the Chiques Creek, the Liederkranz boasts not only a stone clubhouse with a ballroom and deck, but also a large pavilion filled with picnic tables. For events such as the Sommerfest and the organization’s annual Oktoberfest, the pavilion is augmented by a number of large tents.

Not only does the creek provide a picturesque setting for the clubhouse and pavilion, but it also plays a role in a Sommerfest event, the duck race. As many as 1,400 rubber ducks race along the Chiques during this fundraiser. Each duck has a number and the ticketholder of the first 10 ducks to cross the finish line win prizes.

“It’s a lot of fun. People get really excited and cheer on the ducks,” said Barb Stanavage, past chair of the duck race.

For more information about the Lancaster Liederkranz, its events or pavilion rentals, visit lancasterliederkranz.com.

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