Frohna celebrates its German heritage with 24th annual Fall Har

Sunday, October 10, 2004

FROHNA, Mo. -- For the 24th year, Frohna took a trip back in time for a day and brought thousands of visitors along.

The town's annual fall festival on Saturday brought 2,000 to 2,500 visitors who wanted to experience life the way it used to be.

Larry and Sandra Fluegge of Cape Girardeau attend the festival nearly every year. Larry Fluegge likes the country atmosphere. His wife likes to experience the past.

"I like to see the way things used to be done," Sandra Fluegge said.

The event is the principal fund raiser for new construction, repairs and the upkeep of the Saxon Lutheran Memorial historical site, said Bill Bock, president of the Saxon Lutheran Memorial Advisory Council. In 1961, Concordia Historical Institute purchased the log cabin and property that was once the home of brothers Wilhelm and Christian Adolf Bergt and has since added buildings, furnishings and historical items to the site.

The original Thomas Twyman barn helped visitors understand how much labor is saved by technology. Housed in the barn were antique farm tools, including fruit dryers and a horse-drawn walking cultivator.

An outdoor oven, constructed four years ago from plans Bock requested from a German oven builder, baked 84 loaves of fresh bread, which was sold by the slice. The oven is modeled after those used during the time of the Saxon immigration from Germany to this area. The bread is topped with fresh apple butter also made on the premises.

"The main attraction 24 years ago was the apple butter made in eight copper kettles," said Baker Miriam Bock, dressed in period clothing. "Now we make some the day of the festival, but most of it was made three weeks ago."

For the first time, 15-year-old Jonathan Hecht of Frohna helped make apple cider while bees circled the sweet, mashed apples as they flowed into juice.

His first effort received positive reviews.

"It's a lot better than you buy in the store," said Dorothy Leimer of Fruitland.

Music played on the mountain dulcimer and a psaltery -- a centuries-old instrument similar to the dulcimer -- echoed from the Fenwick house across the street to the Schuppan house, built in the mid-1840s.

Dorothy Weinhold, a Frohna resident, sat on the front porch working the spinning wheel. Although she has 30 years of experience at spinning, she said, "I'm still learning."

Weinhold demonstrated the cording process with tools that looked like oversized hairbrushes to get the wool clean and straight. The wool is fed onto the wheel by hand and twisted tightly by a pulley system, while the spinning wheel is powered by a foot pedal.

A combination of original and relocated cabins and houses make up the Saxon Lutheran Memorial site. The visitor's center, built in 1983, is north of the outdoor oven. North of the center is the home of the present curator, which was built by the Bergt family during the early part of the century. It is attached to the original 1820 and 1842 log cabins.

Music was provided by several local bands. Housing a collection of antique woodworking tools left to the church, the Dennis Starzinger woodshop dedication was among the day's highlights in addition to the 2004 fall festival artist award for Norman Evans, and the volunteer of the year award going to Rollie and Leonora Winter.

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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