"You live in Frankenmuth?" I love Frankenmuth!
When people find out that my family and I reside in Frankenmuth the overwhelming response is "Frankenmuth? I love Frankenmuth!" They will then run through a litany of favorite locations and activities that bring them to our small city; Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland, World Expo of Beer, Zehnder's Splash Village, The Bavarian Inn, Dog Bowl, Tiffany's Food and Spirits, Snowfest and Prost Wine Bar and Charcuterie to name just a few.
I get to explain that we live within a minute walk of the majority of locations and festivals they name and the people typically just smile and offer comments of envy of our location.
Our home is typically known as an adult Kool-Aid house. Remember when you were a child and there was always that one house that the kids gathered at? The mom seemed to have treats and Kool-Aid for the numerous kids that descended in the yard each day. That's pretty much our home but we usually play host to our adult friends since our children are grown. I can't recall the last time we actually locked our front door because there always seems to be something happening; Impromptu committee meetings and strategy sessions take place as we continuously discuss making sure that this tiny community of just under 5,000 people maintains its reputation for being beautiful, civic minded, and loved by so many visitors. That's important to everyone here and the majority of us have nothing to do with the industries of tourism, travel, or dining. Take my family for example, my wife is a stylist and I'm a road patrol supervisor for a police department about a half hour away. We simply are proud of where we live and we aren't ashamed of that pride nor afraid to work hard to make sure we maintain what we have and give back to the community.
My wife has been a long time volunteer with a variety of local organizations including the Frankenmuth Jaycees, The Johnny Burke Children's Foundation and of course the Frankenmuth Civic Events Council. When we first met it was made clear to me that our summers would be spent setting up and tearing down for the various festivals that so many people enjoy attending. I knew that she was very involved in the community but she didn't know that I grew up in a family that spent a great deal of time volunteering and fundraising for a multitude of organizations geared toward assisting families of the mentally and physically challenged. Volunteering and hard work appear to be in the DNA of our family and as physically hard as the volunteer work may be (ever lifted a 3000 square foot oak dance floor section before?) we love it.
As President of the Frankenmuth Civic Events Council I have the honor of being the Chairman for the 2017 Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival. As you may imagine, this years board consists of people much like my wife and I. Hard working, hard playing, civic minded volunteers. There is no payroll for this group; we are all volunteers. I am amazed that 15 people can come together and formulate a plan to present one of Michigan's oldest festivals. We begin in August and meet regularly to check off accomplished tasks.
This year I gave the board the challenge of moving our location from the historic Harvey Kern Pavilion at Frankenmuth Heritage Park and relocate to the Main Street of Frankenmuth. It took a little convincing for the board to step outside of their comfort zone but they supported the idea and once that decision was made, we've never looked back.
For nearly two decades the Bavarian Festival took place in what could be described as a self-contained environment. Weather wasn't a problem and restrooms? no problem. Facilities for the various Frankenmuth Civic organizations to prepare and sell traditional German foods? Nope, not an issue. Moving all of the various pieces that work to host an annual festival to a new location has taken hours of work that we haven't had to do for a very long time.
I am extremely proud of what has been accomplished for the 59th annual Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival. This year we will present "Strassenfest" which literally is German for "street festival". We have been able to garner the support of the local Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and local businesses to establish an unprecedented collaborative effort for the weekend of June 8 through the 11th.
We have returned to our roots established by Tiny and Dorothy Zehnder nearly 60 years ago and I promise that you will never see Frankenmuth as you will see it during Bavarian Festival. Lederhosen and dirndls will be the norm as we celebrate the heritage and culture of all that makes Frankenmuth. You will be able to polka to some of the finest German polka music at the main Zehnder's / Bavarian Inn Entertainment Tent or if you just want to sit in the beer garden atmosphere and tap your toe to exceptional Bavarian brass bands, we'll have that too. If polka isn't your first choice in music, we have a second entertainment tent featuring some of the best pop and rock music cover bands in the area. You will be entertained regardless of your taste in music and I can pretty much guarantee, once you get to Frankenmuth, you're going to become an honorary Franconian, get yourself some lederhosen or a dirndl and try some polka.
Imagine the reflections of various landmarks in the Cass River as you watch fireworks Saturday night, or the thousands of smiles you'll see during the Maypole raising Friday night or during the Sunday Bavarian Festival Parade.
So what does it take to plan entertainment, prepare tents for multiple locations, coordinate multiple civic groups, publicize, market, and establish community and business buy-in for the Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival?
All it takes is to have a vision, obtain the volunteers and of course, live in a community that prides itself on hard work, great celebrations, and a core commitment to community. As President and Chairman, I will not ever be able to thank the CEC board properly for countless hours they have put in to make this years Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival one you won't want to miss.
Yes, I live in Frankenmuth and I love it!