German event preps Jasper for Strassenfest

Photos by Traci Westcott/ The Herald
Margie Jefferies of St. Anthony and her husband, Birnie, dance together during the StrassenVORfest at the Jasper Moose Lodge on Sunday.


JASPER — German flags, lederhosen and polka music.

For many living in Dubois County, the words above are tied to memories of the hot August days of Strassenfest. But on Sunday afternoon, inside Jasper’s air-conditioned Moose Lodge, community members met for an afternoon of dancing, playing and learning — all in the name of festival preparation.

Organized by the Jasper German Club, this free, new pep rally of sorts was named “StrassenVORfest,” and was designed to ready all in attendance for Jasper’s annual summer street celebration.

“Anything that we can do to promote German heritage, I think, is important,” German Club member Patti Goepfrich said at the inaugural event.

All heritage is important, she said. But like many living in the area, hers happens to be German.

Inside the cool lodge, attendees could purchase German decorations for their homes, vintage Strassenfest mugs and memorabilia, as well as dirndls and lederhosen to wear during the 41st annual Strassenfest, which will take place from Thursday, Aug. 1 to Sunday, Aug. 4.

Eliot Halverson-Apple, 3, of Jasper, holds on to her mom, Lacey, as she tickles her cheek during the StrassenVORfest at the Jasper Moose Lodge on Sunday.

Jamie Jahn of Jasper traveled abroad recently, and while she was in Munich, she searched for dirndls she could bring home to wear at the fest. Though she came home empty-handed on that trip, she left Sunday’s StrassenVORfest with three unique dresses to add to her wardrobe.

Like many other German Club members, Ross Halverson and Lacey Apple donned traditional German clothing of their own at the community get-together. Before the gathering, with their daughter, Elliot, the family built a wooden board that children and teens used to play a “pin the bird on the cuckoo clock” game at the community event.

Mixed in the merriness, attendees were encouraged to ask German Club members about the upcoming early August festival, and Apple explained that the StrassenVORfest gave guests an opportunity to learn more about the four-day spectacle a few weeks ahead of its start.

“A lot of times, I think when people come to Strassenfest, there’s so much to do, they don’t know where to start,” she said. “So, they can kind of get some information beforehand and kind of decide what they want to do before they do it.”

About halfway through the party, couples took to a makeshift dance floor to step to polka music played through speakers in the building. It was a familiar sight — a celebration of ancestry that will almost certainly be on display again around the downtown Square in just a few weeks.

Though the number of guests who stopped by the Sunday festivities wasn’t recorded, Van Ziegler, president of the German Club, said StrassenVORfest will definitely return in 2020.

Goepfrich recently spent two weeks in Jasper’s sister city, Pfaffenweiler. Her maiden name is Eckerle, and her ancestors were one of the families that came to Southern Indiana from the German village in 1847.

“If you don’t know where you came from, how do you know where to go?” she said when asked why her familial roots are important to her. “I know where I came from. So, it’s important for me to carry on those traditions and keep those relationships going.”

A moose is decorated with a German-colored bow during the StrassenVORfest at the Jasper Moose Lodge on Sunday.

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