About: Schmeckfest

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Schmeckfest (festival of tasting) is an annual four-day festival in Freeman, South Dakota, that celebrates the heritage and culture of Mennonites, an ethnic group of Germans from Russia, who emigrated to North America starting in the 1870s. Established in 1959, Schmeckfest showcases the traditional foods, crafts and talents of the Freeman community with an ethnic meal, demonstrations, displays, programs and a full-stage musical theater production. Schmeckfest has been held every spring since and has grown to accommodate more than 5,000 guests every year. The event is held at Freeman Academy, a grade 1 to 12 private school, and raises about $90,000 annually for the school.

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  • Schmeckfest (festival of tasting) is an annual four-day festival in Freeman, South Dakota, that celebrates the heritage and culture of Mennonites, an ethnic group of Germans from Russia, who emigrated to North America starting in the 1870s. Established in 1959, Schmeckfest showcases the traditional foods, crafts and talents of the Freeman community with an ethnic meal, demonstrations, displays, programs and a full-stage musical theater production. Schmeckfest has been held every spring since and has grown to accommodate more than 5,000 guests every year. The event is held at Freeman Academy, a grade 1 to 12 private school, and raises about $90,000 annually for the school. A multi-course meal and a musical — The Boy Friend in 2019, (Godspell in 2018,Brigadoon in 2017, The Music Man in 2016, Big River in 2015, Children of Eden in 2014, Fiddler on the Roof in 2013, for example — are the main fundraising events. The festival also includes displays, programs, demonstrations and sales of ethnic handcrafts and culinary arts. In recent years, Heritage Hall Museum and Archives, located adjacent to the Freeman Academy campus, offers historical presentations during Schmeckfest. The 62nd annual festival was scheduled March 20–21, 27–28, 2020 with Matilda the Musical as the community theater musical production. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival was first postponed and then cancelled; those dates deferred to 19–20, 26–27 March 2021, but no musical. The official announcement can be found at Schmeckfest Web site. It is the first time in history that the festival was cancelled. The 2022 festival is scheduled March 18–19, 25–26, which will be the 63rd. It has been drive-thrus since 2021. The Schmeckfest meal was served buffet style in the early years before switching to family style in 1965. In 2018, buffet-style serving returned for the 60th Schmeckfest, which is part of an emphasis on the historic nature of the 2018 observance and continues as the dining format. Schmeckfest officials told the Freeman Courier, the weekly newspaper in Freeman, the 50th anniversary in 2008 was the most successful Schmeckfest to date, with more than 6,000 guests visiting the Freeman Academy campus. Following the 2015 Schmeckest, officials told the Courier the festival is continuing to grow in popularity. A book on the 60-year history of Schmeckfest was published in 2018. "Schmeckfest at 60" is a 252-page hardcover book that includes a comprehensive look at the festival and more the 150 photos and illustrations. It was published by Second Century Publishing Inc., of Freeman which also publishes the Freeman Courier. Copies are available for sale at the Courier office in downtown Freeman. (en)
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  • May 2020 (en)
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  • Schmeckfest (festival of tasting) is an annual four-day festival in Freeman, South Dakota, that celebrates the heritage and culture of Mennonites, an ethnic group of Germans from Russia, who emigrated to North America starting in the 1870s. Established in 1959, Schmeckfest showcases the traditional foods, crafts and talents of the Freeman community with an ethnic meal, demonstrations, displays, programs and a full-stage musical theater production. Schmeckfest has been held every spring since and has grown to accommodate more than 5,000 guests every year. The event is held at Freeman Academy, a grade 1 to 12 private school, and raises about $90,000 annually for the school. (en)
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  • Schmeckfest (en)
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