Orders are being accepted for tickets for the 54th annual Schmeckfest to be held in Freeman March 23-24 and 30-31, 2012.
The popular festival, which began in 1959 with an ethnic German meal, has grown to a multifaceted festival now held on two consecutive weekends. A full three-course meal featuring the traditional foods of the Freeman community is served family style to 1,000 guests each night. Tickets for the meal are sold advance order only.
Tickets are also on sale for reserved seats for the 2012 Schmeckfest musical production "The Wizard of Oz". It will be presented each night of Schmeckfest with an 8 p.m. curtain at Pioneer Hall. This is the first time the popular musical based on the classic story by L. Frank Baum will be staged as a Schmeckfest musical. In addition to the performances scheduled during Schmeckfest, "The Wizard of Oz" will also be presented Thursday, March 29; no Schmeckfest activities will be held on Thursday.
Tickets for the meal and reserved seats for the musical are available by writing Schmeckfest, Box S, Freeman, SD 57029 or online at www.schmeckfest.com where credit card orders can be placed directly or an order form can be printed and mailed.
The festival also includes demonstrations of culinary arts, which are held at Sterling Hall on the Freeman Academy campus. The Country Kitchen bake sale and foods for sampling will also be located in Sterling Hall, which is handicap accessible and is located northeast of Pioneer Hall.
The Freeman Academy Auxiliary, which sponsors Schmeckfest, will again provide free admission to the Heritage Hall Museum complex which houses the Plains Indian Artifacts Display and thousands of items from the history of pioneer settlers and early life in South Dakota. Demonstrations of early pioneer activities can be found throughout the museum during Schmeckfest.
As in past years, the festival also includes free historical and musical presentations.
A random drawing is held Dec. 1 to process all orders received prior to that date. Ticket orders received after Dec. 1 are processed daily with first-choice preference given when available. All mail orders for tickets should include a check and a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Schmeckfest – a "tasting festival" – was started in 1959 as a one-time, one-day event by the Freeman Academy and Junior College Women's Auxiliary to celebrate its 10th anniversary. It featured the favorite dishes of the Mennonite people who immigrated to the area from Russia in the 1870s. That first Schmeckfest proved to be so popular that it was repeated the following year … and the year after and it quickly became an annual affair. It soon expanded to two days, then to three days and now two weekends. The event has become known nationally for its celebration of tradition and culture and is held annually in late March or early April.
Proceeds from Schmeckfest go to benefit Freeman Academy, a Christian, coeducational middle and high school affiliated with Mennonite churches in the area established in 1900.