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GTEV Edelweiss Hosts Regional Fest

Sterling Heights, MI - One of the favorite activities for GTEV Edelweiss Detroit members is the annual “Mittelwest-Bezirksheimatfest.” This year was the 26th Fest, and Edelweiss hosted for only the second time; our last time hosting was 12 years ago. Members of Bavarian cultural and dance clubs from the Midwest, Canada, Texas, Colorado, and even Bavaria came together on April 1 and 2 to socialize, dance, take part in workshops, and generally have a great reunion with one another.

Over 330 people from twenty different clubs took part, among them about 50 children and teens. The annual Fest originated with an emphasis on children because we knew that youngsters who have fun together on a regular basis end up friends for life. The plan has worked! Today’s 20- and 30-somethings have been taking part in the Fest for years, and many are bringing the next generation along.

Friday night’s welcome dance, with music by Edelweiss’s own talented Siasswasser Tanzlmusi, was the beginning of the fun. As with any gathering of Bavarians, folk dancing and Schuhplatteln soon break out, especially when Siasswasser plays all the favorites. What a great way to kick off the weekend.

PHOTO - Tradition spanning generations

Saturday started out early with a dance exhibition and competition for the youngsters from 5-17 years old. A total of 33 took part, each dancer being evaluated on his or her skills while dancing as a couple. In the evening ceremonies, each one received a certificate, and the winners of the competition were announced. It’s hard to tell who is more proud, the children or the adults.

After the competition, the afternoon is filled with workshops. This year, three of the workshops were dedicated to learning new dances, both Schuhplattler and Bavarian Volkstänze. Another workshop concentrated on hairstyles appropriate for the ladies when wearing traditional Tracht. A fifth workshop gave those attending a chance to play some old-time games or learn to do an embroidery project. As it neared time for the evening banquet, people scattered to rest for an hour, take a dip in the hotel pool, socialize some more, or play music in the lobby.

We were pleased to be able to have the Carpathia Blaskapelle play for the Saturday evening festivities. What a treat! In between social dancing, each club performed a dance during the course of the night. Although the evening was officially over at midnight, the many visiting musicians provided dance music for another two hours before we were swept out of the hall.

The joy of being involved in a regional event like this is the camaraderie among the participants. Everyone enjoys the Bavarian culture, music, dance, and Tracht, so much so that they travel up to 13 hours to see one another. We are already looking forward to next year’s Fest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and going to St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2018.

Karin Dean-Kraft, Pressewart, GTEV Edelweiss

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