History of the Princess Program
In a small meeting room a group of dedicated Frankenmuth residents gave birth to an idea the would stand the test of time. The Bavarian Festival had already had a successful run of over 5 years and it was time to start adding to the excitement, but what would create a draw that would make as large an impact as the festival itself? Richard Rummel, Mrs. Harold Kaczynski, Richard Duclos, Wallace Riethmeier, and Cliff James had an idea and on Monday, March 25th, 1963, the Bavarian Princess was born.
The first, ever, Bavarian Princess Application went into the newspaper on March 4th, 1963. With only a month and a half to apply the committee gathered ten poised young women to compete to have the honor of being crowned the very first Bavarian Festival Princess.
The Princess Dinner was held on May 2nd of that year. This dinner was the night where one of the candidates would be chosen as the princess. Three judges were in attendance to watch and judge the girls based on the three most important qualities, that are still so important to the program: Poise, Personality, and Communication Skills. The group of competing women had been reduced to five prior to the dinner and the true competition began. At the end of the evening Kathy Uebler (Nolan) was crowned Frankenmuth’s first Bavarian Princess. Her attendants were Rhea Fischer, Cheryl Geyer, Mary Ann Gerschefske, and Marie Heine. These five women started a tradition that continues to this day.
Since its first year, The Bavarian Princess Program has only flourished. The program has had 54 princesses and nearly double that in attendants and court members. The tea is now held at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and consists of a panel of 6 judges that select the top three candidates. From there the three selected are invited to a second interview with three, third party judges. The princess is selected at this interview, however, this is kept secret until the following week at The Bavarian Festival, where a coronation event is held on Thursday night.
The Princess and Court reign from June to June and attend approximately two dozen events, festivals, and parades around the state. From Traverse City Cherry Festival to Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival the Court sees a vast amount of the state we call home. The learn the cultures and the different traditions, but most importantly the Court represents and honors the city that crowned them, Frankenmuth.
A 1963, Frankenmuth Newspaper article stated that the original Bavarian Princess Selection Committee, “hoped that the Bavarian Princess would become a real feature in the festivals to come,” and it truly has.
Photos supplied by the Frankenmuth Historical Association.