President’s Message

It’s finally October and the fall season has arrived! We’ve been busy around the museum the past three months. Along with planning and preparation for Wendish Fest, we’ve also hosted numerous visitors and tour groups and attended meetings and conferences. Joyce Bise and Raymond and Sandra Matthijetz represented TWHS at Galveston’s second annual Heritage Festival in mid-August. Joyce gave a presentation about the Texas Wends that afternoon, while Sandra demonstrated Wendish Easter egg decorating techniques and Raymond kept them both supplied with water and cold beer. Joyce reported that it was a very busy day, the event was well attended, and it was an excellent opportunity to share information about TWHS and the Wends with people who had never been to our museum.

Of course, being in the month of October also means that Wendish Fest 2016 is behind us. For the first time in many years, we experienced rain during Wendish Fest, but thankfully not until about 4:00 that afternoon, long after everyone had enjoyed their plates of sausage and noodles, children’s contests were completed, the coffeecake bakeoff winners were announced, winning cakes were sold at auction, and many of the other activities had wound down. The only contest affected by the weather was the washer-pitching contest. With 3 teams participating, a 3-way tie was declared.

Highlights of this year’s Wendish Fest are many, but certainly include Rev. Walter Dube delivering the sermon in German at the 10:00 worship service at St. Paul, the excellent musical entertainment provided by the Brazos Polka Kapała, and Bryan Gersch’s first year to serve as solo emcee for the day. All did an excellent job, and we are grateful for their willingness to share their talents with us.

This year’s Fest also included, for the first time, members of Balcones Forge – Central Texas Blacksmiths, a non-profit organization and an affiliate of the Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America (ABANA). The group spent the day demonstrating the art of blacksmithing and answered numerous questions about their craft, giving folks the chance to watch the iron forging process and learn more about how our ancestors made many of the tools that were needed for their day-to-day lives.

Although attendance at this year’s Fest was not as large as it was last year, it was well attended, and seemed to include many people who had never been to a Wendish Fest or visited the museum. We served close to 1600 meals and sold 1479 beer tickets. For this year’s coffeecake bakeoff, we organized two teams of judges instead of one team, and each team judged entries from two of the four categories, which hopefully prevented our judges from leaving the judging table with sugar overload. And for the first time, two of the six judges were youth, which added an extra element of fun at the judging table. Of the 33 entries in this year’s bakeoff, the top three winners in each of the four categories were sold at auction with $1690 in proceeds benefiting the Texas Wendish Heritage Scholarship program. My thanks to Nick Hinze for serving as auctioneer, and to everyone who entered a coffeecake in the contest – keep up the good work!

We extend a most sincere thank you to our Wendish Fest sponsors, donors, exhibitors, volunteers, and the congregation of St. Paul Lutheran Church for helping make our 28th a fun, safe and successful event. We certainly could not have Wendish Fest every year without the help of each and every one of you.