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Scene from the 1993 Summerfest
Scene from the 25th Hamler Summerfest, 1993 Photo courtesy Hamler Summerfest

The Hamler Summerfest

The idea for the first Hamler Summerfest in Henry County came when a few couples in 1968 visited the Frankenmuth festival in Michigan, and enjoyed its gemurtlekeit (sociability). Both communities are of largely German descent. The first festival began on a Sunday afternoon in a tent behind the American Legion Hall, with two polka bands and a makeshift dance floor. The response was overwhelming with 900 people attending, many until after midnight. The next festival in 1970 was held over two days, attracting 2,000 people. The festival continued to grow in popularity, overflowing the streets and tents. In 1973, festival organizers decided to purchase 13 acres which could be used as a park and festival grounds. In 1975, the Hamler Summerfest honored Hamler's 100th anniversary with a parade with 80 units, a baking contest, a beard and mustache contest, a dress and bonnet contest, and lots of German-style food-bratwurst, German potato salad, hot dogs and sauerkraut, lots of beer, and several polka bands. In July 2000, the festival attracted 20,000 visitors from across the country.

Documentation includes a legacy report, two anniversary catalogs from the 1973 festival, brochures, flyers, memorabilia, three video cassettes from 1976, 1998, and 1993 festivals, and an audio cassette.

Originally submitted by: Paul E. Gillmor, Representative (5th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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