A Word About Schmeckfest

For many people, Freeman means Schmeckfest, that festival with a funny name.

Here is a quick primer from Waltner Media’s 2017 edition of the “Experience 57029” publication.

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Schmeckfest – a “tasting festival” – was started in 1959 as a one-time, one-day event by the Freeman Junior College and Academy Women’s Auxiliary to celebrate its 10th anniversary. It featured the favorite dishes of the Mennonite people who immigrated to the area from Russia in the 1870s. That first Schmeckfest proved to be so popular that it was repeated the following year, and then the year after that, and it quickly became an annual affair. Today it is held on Friday and Saturday on two consecutive weekends in late March or early April.

The festival has evolved over the years. Today it also includes free demonstrations, displays, programs, and exhibits celebrating the Germans-from-Russia Mennonite tradition of the Freeman community. One of the highlights and most popular attractions of Schmeckfest is the annual musical production, which is staged by the Freeman community. More than 30 different popular Broadway shows ranging from “Big River” to “Fiddler on the Roof” to “Guys and Dolls” to “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” have been presented as Schmeckfest productions.

And while Schmeckfest originated as a project of the Freeman Junior College and Academy Women’s Auxiliary as a fund-raising project Freeman Academy, today the entire Freeman community involved.

Regardless of ethnic or religious heritage, the volunteers who make Schmeckfest an annual success reflect the broader Freeman community.

Next year is the 60th annual Schmeckfest and it will be held March 16, 17, 23, and 24; tickets go on sale in November. You can learn more about the festival at www.schmeckfest.com.