German Band to perform in Ingleside Park

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The Guttenberg German Band will perform on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 2-4 p.m. in the band shell located in Ingleside Park at the intersection of China Street and River Park Drive. Admission is free and all ages are welcome. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

The Guttenberg Germanfest planning committee had to postpone this year's Germanfest celebration due to health and safety concerns brought on by a worldwide pandemic. Careful consideration was taken into account. "I constantly re-visit the postponement of Germanfest, but know that we could not hold it and conform to all safety protocols, and the board was made aware that 'if' there were to be an outbreak, we could be held individually responsible," said a spokeswoman for the group. "This year has been rough on everyone. We didn't want to postpone, but when looking at all the hurdles we had to jump over to be able to safely gather, we couldn't do it. It was disappointing, but now we know nobody got sick because of a decision we made. It was a no-win situation." 

The Guttenberg German Band 

As the saying goes – the show must go on. The Guttenberg German Band will perform on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 2-4 p.m. in the band shell located in Ingleside Park at the intersection of China Street and River Park Drive. Admission is free, and all ages are welcome. Bring a blanket or lawn chair, picnic dinner and your cooler. Relax and enjoy your favorite German music overlooking spectacular views of the Mississippi River surrounded by fall's brilliant foliage. Masks must be worn entering and exiting the park and attendees are asked to only sit with family members. The musical performance is sponsored by the Germanfest committee.

Germanfest history

This year would have been the festival's 30-year anniversary. Michelle Geuder, Germanfest committee member, has been part of the Germanfest committee for approximately 14 years. The group cites Karen Merrick (mayor at the time) for instituting the concept.  "Mayor Merrick contacted Gayle and Dennis Hanna and asked if they'd be interested in helping put something together," said Geuder. "Karin Bahls also joined, and was instrumental in making the first German food for the festival. Interestingly, this is also how the Guttenberg German Band got its start. The Hanna's thought that you couldn't have a Germanfest without German music, and so the Guttenberg German Band was born."

The original pioneers of the project had a desire to celebrate the community's German heritage and bring visitors to the area to see what Guttenberg had to offer.

Economic benefits

Statistics indicate the festival is beneficial to the local economy. "We don't have hard statistics, however our hotels are booked out a year in advance, and that is mostly tourists. Restaurants are packed and the retail businesses are full, and that's locals and visitors alike," noted Geuder. "That influx of money into the community trickles down and is a boon for all.  And those people that are coming to Germanfest usually come back at some other point in the next year, or tell friends and family and then they come to Guttenberg." She further noted, "I can't count the number of times people have stopped in my office to inquire about something local and mention that they're here in some way that originated from Germanfest or Stars and Stripes.  I know of several instances where visitors to our festival ended up purchasing homes and moving here."

Germanfest has seen many positive changes throughout the years. "I've seen many more people getting involved. At some points there were two or three people doing everything, and a festival the size of Germanfest is nearly impossible to be put on by two people. We've also added a lot of fun, new events. The Wiener Dog Dash has become very popular and people come from all over, not just to enter their dog, but also just to watch.  Everyone seems to love our German car show.  And the vendor/craft market has grown exponentially. I started it my first year and had five vendors. Last year I had close to 40," she proudly shared. 

"We have a beautiful town and I love to see all the locals and visitors out being able to enjoy what we have to offer. I'm not talking just at Germanfest, but at the brick and mortar businesses." She explained, "Our goal is never to take away from our business that support us all year long, but to get customers through their doors via Germanfest also."

The Germanfest committee will begin meeting and planning for next year's 30-year anniversary celebration in October. "If someone is interested in joining the committee, the October meeting would be the time to check it out," encouraged Geuder. "You don't have to be involved in every facet of the festival, but if we had at least one person dedicated to each event, it would make everything much easier for all."

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