TRADITIONAL SCHMECKFEST NIXED AGAIN
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
For the third time in as many years, organizers of Schmeckfest have decided not to host the traditional festival as it has taken place for the vast majority of its six-decade run. Instead, they are once again pursuing a modified event designed to at least give the public a taste of Schmeckfest, although those details are still being worked out.
The 62nd “festival of tasting” had been scheduled to return to form on March 18-19, 25-26, 2022, and tickets for the meal and the musical went on sale in November. But a steady increase in Covid-19 cases the past two months has concerned organizers enough that they have once again scrapped their plans for a full-blown Schmeckfest.
This comes less than a month following the decision to cancel “Matilda the Musical.”
Refunds are being made available for those who had purchased tickets.
Kathy Kleinsasser, president of the Freeman Academy Auxiliary that oversees Schmeckfest, said early this week that food will be available for purchase sometime in the upcoming months, but dates have not yet been set. She said those dates will likely be different from the March weekends that had been set aside for the festival.
A post on the Schmeckfest Facebook page and website hints at what will be coming:
“Hungry for cheese pockets, kuchen, poppyseed rolls, peppernuts and more? Schmeckfest organizers are excited to announce that plans are underway to host a walk-in Country Kitchen and traditional sausage sales!” the note reads. “Also, have you been craving stewed beef and sauerkraut? You just might have the chance to satisfy that craving. Keep watching for details in the coming weeks!”
This latest development is not what school and festival officials anticipated in mid-November, when they announced that ticket sales were underway and that “we’re planning as if everything is normal.” But they also acknowledged they were prepared to adjust in response to Covid-19 trends if necessary.
By the end of November the omicron variant was causing alarm and generating warnings that the number of active cases were expected to surge in January — which they did.
Statewide, active cases went from 7,222 on Dec. 1 to 8,778 on Jan. 1 to 32,239 on Feb. 1. That’s more than twice the number of active cases since the pandemic began in March of 2020; the previous high had been 14,088 on Dec. 1, 2020.
By comparison, the lowest number of active cases in South Dakota was 156 on July 1 — right around the time Schmeckfest organizers were having discussions about the 2022 festival.
More details about the food sales will be made available when they are announced by organizers.