the Stiftungsfest Committee:
Stiftungsfest, Inc. is run by a board of directors, an advisory
board, and many committees. The festival would not be possible
each year without the work of all of these people who plan each
year's events. The boards, committees, and members begin
meeting in September to prepare for the next year's festival.
still strong after over 150 years
155 years, residents, former residents and visitors have been
gathering to celebrate Stiftungsfest, Minnesota's oldest celebration.
While the event has changed greatly over the years, the theme
is the same, getting friends and neighbors together to sing, dance,
eat, drink and have a wonderful time.
Pioneer Maennerchor, a men's singing group, is credited for beginning
the celebration in 1861. Karl Bachmann, who moved to the area
from New Jersey earlier that year, wanted to form a singing group
similar to one he belonged to back East. He gathered a group of
local men who enjoyed singing, and the Maennerchor was born. Besides
Bachmann, early members included Henry Bachmann, Adolph Hostermann,
A. Schrimpf, H. Verufen and Henry Hostermann., They sang a variety
of songs, mostly in German.
group held an annual get together for members, their families
and the community members. In December of 1866, the group held
a threeday celebration from Friday through Monday in a rented
hall in Young America. Entertainment included a fivemember band.
From this first celebration, Stiftungsfest evolved.
singers met in local homes until 1868 when Singers Hall was built
in Young 'America on a piece of land near the present water tower.
The Maennerchor and other local men helped construct the hall.
a century old
In 1911, Stiftungsfest celebrated its 50th anniversary with a
huge crowd and many activities in the city park. Trainloads of
visitors came to Young America including the Second Regiment Band
and the New Ulm Maennerchor Later in the day, the band marched
through the city. The day ended with a grand ball in the evening.
1938, the Pioneer Maennerchor membership was down to six members.
On July 7, 1938, the group voted to 'disband the Maennerchor and
turn the Stiftungsfest celebration and Singers Hall over to the
village of Young America. The village in turn gave the property
and celebration to the fire department which is still actively
involved in Stiftungsfest today.
From 1938 through 1955, Stiftungsfest was held as a oneday celebration
in Young America. Even during the years of World War II, the annual
1956, Young America firemen decided to make a few changes. The
celebration was expanded to three days and a parade was planned.
Several local people dressed in oldfashioned costumes and traveled
to other local celebrations to hand out information advertising
the upcoming Stiftungsfest celebration. The threeday event, complete.
with parade, drew 25,000 people for the weekend.
Those living in the city in 1956 may recall that the Schell's
Hobo Band, who' slept overnight in Bouncer's Bar (owned by Alfred
Stenzel), marched up and down main street doing revelry at 6 a.m.
on Sunday morning. It was in 1956 that the barbecued beef became
a part of the Stiftungsfest tradition.
was also around this time the special seasoned hamburgers made
their debut under the guiding hand of Bernard "Bernie"
Pedersen and J.J. Thomas in the Young America Meat Market. Both
foods are still served today.
1966, men's softball tournaments were added to the list of events.
In 1971, women's softball tournaments became a part of Stiftungsfest.
In 1980, an International Folk Festival interested in German celebrations,
wrote to resident Joyce Nuernberg for information about Stiftungsfest.
The information was forwarded to New York and then to Bonn, Germany.
A local German band wrote Nuernberg to ask if they could come
play at the next Stiftungsfest. In 1981, the Diedesfeld Band was
the first of many German bands to come to Stiftungsfest. They
returned in 1986, 1991 and 1996 and were here again in 2001.
1986, a number of new items were added to Stiftungsfest. A large
tent was erected on the west end of Main Street to provide a stage
for the many visiting bands and seating was added for the visitors.
A 30 by 30 foot oak floor was added for dancing. An arts and crafts
sale and flower show were also added that year.
1994, Willkommen Park had a facelift. "Old Town in the Park"
was the theme of the new buildings and walkways built in the
park to represent an old German town. The project, costing $50,000,
was done through donations, fundraisers and help from city organizations.
1994, the fire department also decided to invite a German band
to perform at Stiftungsfest each parade year.
the cities of Norwood and Young America voted to merge in 1996,
the city's fire departments joined together to sponsor Stiftungsfest.
Stiftungsfest Incorporated, a nonprofit organization, was formed.
The organization is comprised of 22 members who formed committees
and met throughout the year making plans for Stiftungsfest. More
than 30 people are members of the various committees which include
music, foods, advertising, arts and crafts, housing, softball,
cleanup and several others. Many local organizations now participate
in various aspects of Stiftungsfest, too. Today, it takes more
than 300 volunteers to plan and carry out the three day festival.
1998, a grant from the Minnesota Arts Council made it possible
to add new attractions to Stiftungsfest. A Heritage tent with
many German crafts and displays was added, as was a Kinder Tent
with special music provided by the Spatzenchor (Children's Choir),
made up of area children.
2001 the Diedesfeld Band returned for the fifth time, and a grand
day parade with over 125 units comprised of floats, marching bands,
horsedrawn units, cars, clowns and many other attractions, was
2002 some new items including a special display of the former
city of Norwood, which was founded 141 years earlier, a special performance
marking the 40th anniversary of Peter and Paul Wendinger. a car
show and children's dance show have been added to the festivities.
The Evergreens from Germany will be special musical guests.
Stiftungsfest would not be the same without many of the traditions
that have continued over the years including music under the Big
Tent, arts and crafts show, the kiddie pedal pull, softball tournaments,
beef dinners, hamburgers and lots of German food and drinks.