President’s Message

Seems we’ve slid headfirst into the dog days of summer after a longer-than-usual spring season that also brought rain by the bucket-loads. Those who operate hay cutters and balers in Lee County have been very busy lately cutting and baling what is reported to be a bumper crop.

Summer and hot weather also signal that it is time to get busy with Wendish Fest preparations. Featured performers will be the Brazos Polka Kapała, an ensemble organized for our 28th Annual Wendish Fest by Travis Urban, one of our board members. Travis will lead the ensemble with the fiddle, playing a collection of traditional Wendish polkas as well as many other toe-tapping numbers. Travis inherited his musical talent from his Wendish grandfather, Walter “Bozo” Urban, Jr., a clarinetist who played in polka ensembles and big band orchestras throughout Central Texas. Travis is a string orchestra teacher for College Station ISD, the principal viola player of the Brazos Valley Symphony, and leader of the College Station String Quartet that he founded in 2009. In his spare time, Travis digs up little known music from the early 1900s and arranges it for various ensembles, and some of his arrangements will be performed at Wendish Fest. His fellow Kapała musicians are graduates of Sam Houston State University and Texas A&M University.

Rev. Walter A. Dube will be the speaker for the German worship service at St. Paul at 10:30 a.m. Rev. Dube is Pastor Emeritus of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Houston, and now in retirement, serves as Lutheran Volunteer Chaplain at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Expect to find the excellent food and wide variety of activities for young and old that have become a traditional part of Wendish Fest. In addition, we are expanding the Heritage booth (that first appeared at last year’s Fest) to include a Texas Wendish Research booth. Volunteers manning these booths are looking forward to talking to visitors about all things Wendish – history, heritage, genealogy – and what it means to be Wendish.

The 2016 Folklife Festival is now past. Our thanks go to Ron Knippa and his group of volunteers for once again organizing and running the Wendish booth at the festival. By all accounts, it was a successful weekend. Thank you Ron!

Students involved with the Texas German Dialect Project at The University of Texas at Austin were here in April, interviewing and recording 6 more Texas German speakers. The interviewees grew up speaking German as their first language, and shared with the students their German language skills and some of the unique Texas German words and phrases they learned as children. Additional interviews at the museum are being planned in the coming months, so if you grew up in Texas, German was your first language, and you’d be willing to share your memories and knowledge by being interviewed, please let Joyce know and she will add you to the list.

Evelyn Buchhorn represented us at the 10th Annual SPJST Car Show and Czech Festival in Temple, Texas on May 2nd, demonstrating how to make homemade noodles. Evelyn has demonstrated noodle making at Wendish Fest for more years than I can recall, effortlessly mixing, kneading, rolling and cutting batch after batch of dough by hand into thin noodles. The first time I watched her work flour, salt and eggs into dough, I left with the impression that making noodles is a simple, straightforward activity that anyone with basic cooking skills could accomplish – until I actually tried it on my own and discovered that “simple” and “straightforward” weren’t truly accurate terms to apply to noodle making unless one has made noodles enough times to develop a “feel” for when the dough is “right” and ready to be rolled and cut – or was blessed to have grown up at the knee of his/her Wendish grandmother and was allowed to help Grandma with the cooking. Let me just say that the result of my first attempt at making noodles was not pretty. I am grateful that I live within spitting distance of Wendish noodle ground zero – the museum – where I can buy noodles anytime the need arises. And we are fortunate that folks like Evelyn carry on the traditions of our elders and are willing to share their skills with those of us who are talent-challenged. Want to try your hand at making homemade noodles? Be sure to check out Hattie Schautschick’s grandmother’s recipe. And I hope to see you here for Wendish Fest on Sunday, September 25!

Měj so rjenje!

Jan Slack, President