Milestone ‘tasting festival’ will be marked by buffet-style meal, ‘Godspell’
Orders are now being accepted for tickets for the 60th annual Schmeckfest in Freeman next March 16, 17, 23 and 24.
The popular festival, which began in 1959 with an ethnic Germans-from-Russia meal, has grown to a multifaceted festival that celebrates the community’s ethnic traditions. It is held on two consecutive weekends on the campus of Freeman Academy.
With next year marking the 60th year, the Freeman Academy Auxiliary, which sponsors the event, has made a conscious effort to recreate a nostalgic feel for the early years of the festival. While the menu will remain the same, the 2018 evening meal will return to the buffet-style serving used in the first six years. Hosts and servers will be available to guide guests and provide assistance to those who need it. There will also be opportunity for those who wish to return to the buffet line for seconds on their favorite dishes. Tickets for the meal are sold advance order only to 1,000 guests each night.
Tickets are also available for reserved seats for the 2018 Schmeckfest musical production, Stephen Schwartz’s “Godspell.” It will be presented each night of Schmeckfest with an 8 p.m. curtain at Pioneer Hall. This is the first time “Godspell,” which is based largely on the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, is being staged as the Schmeckfest musical. An additional performance is planned for 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 22; no other Schmeckfest activities will be held that day.
Tickets for the meal and reserved seats for the musical are available by writing Schmeckfest, Box S, Freeman, SD 57029 or online at schmeckfest.com where credit card orders can be placed directly or an order form can be printed and mailed. A chart showing the seating options for the musical can be found online at schmeckfest.com.
The festival also includes demonstrations of culinary arts, which are held at Sterling Hall on the Freeman Academy campus. The Country Kitchen bake sale and foods for sampling will also be located in Sterling Hall, which is handicap accessible and is located northeast of Pioneer Hall.
Demonstrations of early pioneer activities can be found throughout Heritage Hall Museum during Schmeckfest. The Heritage Hall Museum and Archives complex houses thousands of items from the history of pioneer settlers and early life in South Dakota.
As in past years, the festival also includes free historical and musical presentations.
Schmeckfest is utilizing social media as a way for its guests to interact with the festival and each other. Comments and photos can be shared on Facebook (facebook.com/Schmeckfest), Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #schmeckfest2018.
A random drawing is held Dec. 1 to process all ticket orders received prior to that date. Ticket orders received after Dec. 1 are processed daily with first-choice preference given when available. All mail orders for tickets should include a check and a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Schmeckfest — a “tasting festival” — was started in 1959 as a one-time, one-day event by the Freeman Academy and Junior College Women’s Auxiliary to celebrate its 10th anniversary. It featured the favorite dishes of the Mennonite people who immigrated to the Freeman area from Russia in the 1870s. That first Schmeckfest proved to be so popular that it was repeated the following year ... and the year after and it quickly became an annual affair. It soon expanded to two days, then to three days and now two weekends. The event has become known nationally for its celebration of tradition and culture and is held annually in late March or early April.
Proceeds from Schmeckfest go to benefit Freeman Academy, a Christian, coeducational school for grades 1-12. It is affiliated with Mennonite churches in the area and was established in 1900.