BRISTOL – In a historic celebration, beer, food and music were served up to lovers of all things German at Immanuel Lutheran Church as part of its recognition of 130 years in the community Friday and Saturday at its annual German Festival.
“(Friday), we opened up and started with a pre-church service under the tent for 15 minutes. It’s for the festival staff who arrive early. We had the mayor here and we rolled into the dedication of our 130th anniversary,” said Rhoda Lange, festival chair and lifelong church member. “It was really nice and we went right into tapping the first keg.”
The church was established in 1892 by German immigrants, said Lange, and was previously at “Root Island.” Eventually church members would build what is the current church structure at 154 Meadow Street in 1907, according to Immanuel Lutheran Church’s website.
Festival visitors were invited to take part in “Pronounce that German Word” in different age groups, where competitors would try to pronounce a word in German on a card by sight. Also, competitive stein holding returned, an event where participants look to hold a beer mug longer than their opponents.
Alpine Squeeze and the Liederkranz Singers led the festival’s live entertainment with their musical talents. Cornhole boards were placed about the festival grounds and activities were available for families to engage with as well as vending booths.
“I think it’s amazing. I think it shows that the inner workings of the church can produce amazing things with cooperation between people. You get people who aren’t really keyed up to be volunteers but they show up and start helping and if they see a need it gets done,” said Kevin Reed who manages the festival audio and leads the church’s youth group.
Mother and daughter duo, Connie Chadwick and Melanie Cote, said they were enjoying being at the festival and its community. They particularly liked festival crafts.
“It’s good weather and good people,” said Cote. “I love the atmosphere and I love the food. We especially love German chocolate cake.”
“We try to come every year,” said Chadwick.
Rebecca Runk and Cathy Kane, festival volunteers and church members, helped with the event’s baking.
“We’ve been helping since it started,” said Kane.
“Anything German,” said Runk about what she enjoyed about the event. “People come back year after year even though they don’t live here. Out of the state even, they’ll come back.”
Richard Sylvia, also a festival volunteer and longtime church member, said he felt the festival was a place where “great things attracted good people” with the beer being among them.