South Dakota March 01, 2018
This Festival Is A 60 Year Old Tradition For South Dakotans And Can’t Be Missed
One of the best things about living in South Dakota is the incredible community support and sense of tradition that’s so ingrained in our culture. Every year, the community in and around Freeman gathers together for a fundraiser of epic proportions. This event is happening soon, and you don’t want to miss it.
The town of Freeman is about 58 miles west of Sioux Falls. Around 1,200 people call this pretty place home.
Freeman was established in 1879, and was settled mainly by Swiss Germans who immigrated to the United States from Russia.
This people here have a rich heritage and strong community ties.
Freeman Academy is a private, Christian school serving grades 1-12. It was built in 1900.
Every year since 1959, the school has held an annual fundraiser. The event is called "Schmeckfest," and this year marks the 60th anniversary.
The name "Schmeckfest" was meant to reflect the three main ethnic immigrant groups in Freeman: the Hutterish, Swiss and low Germans. It means "Festival of Tasting."
In 1959, volunteers planned for 200 people...but more than 1,000 showed up to support the school.
The very next year, the festival was extended to two days, and in 1973 it was extended again to three days in order to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend. In 2005, Schmeckfest became an epic, two-weekend event.
This year's Schmeckfest takes place on March 16 and 17, and March 23rd and 24th.
The meal is served on the campus of Freeman Academy, located at 748 S. Main Street, Freeman.
Tickets sell out every year! You'll want to get yours online asap.
to reserve your meal ticket and see this year's full menu.
Large communal tables are piled high with some of the most incredible food you've ever tasted.
This year's menu includes two kinds of soup, stewed beef, pork sausage, fried potatoes, salad, sauerkraut, fresh-baked rolls and bread, kuchen and more. The meal is served from 3:45 PM to 7 PM at Pioneer Hall.
Families have been enjoying this meal together for generations, from 1959...
...to today. In fact, many people who remember attending Schmeckfest as children now bring their own children to the event.
Another long-standing tradition at Schmeckfest is the Quilt Raffle.
Make sure to stop by the raffle booth and enter to win this year's beautiful handmade quilt.
This photo shows a quilt from a previous year - check out this year's quilt at the festival.
Starting in 1967, a musical production was added to the festival.
Musicals have included productions such as "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," (shown here), Oklahoma!, Fiddler on the Roof and many more.
This year's musical is Godspell, and it's sure to be an excellent production. For tickets to this year's musical,
. Hurry! Several dates are already sold out.
Volunteers spend days making homemade noodles for this epic meal.
They also build scenery for the musical, and produce the entire show. Thousands of hours are donated by community members every year in order to make this event wonderful.
The volunteerism and support by local residents is a testament to South Dakota's strong commitment to community. Make plans to attend Schmeckfest this year. The food is fabulous, the entertainment is top-notch and the people are amongst some of the best in the state.
Have you ever attended Schmeckfest? Tell us about it!
For more South Dakota history,
check out the little town of DeSmet.