TRAVERSE CITY – Trinity Lutheran’s inaugural Germanfest Friday night is fête, fundraiser and feast.
It's a celebration of the German heritage of many area Lutherans and pays tribute to the history of eight Lutheran churches in the Grand Traverse region. But the real focus of the event is fundraising for Trinity’s K-fifth-grade school.
“Our goal was to raise money for the school and promote our Lutheran education program for northern Michigan,” said David Daenzer, a member of the festival's organizing committee.
Only 400 of the $35 admission tickets to the event will be sold.
You don’t have to be Lutheran to attend, but you do have to be at least 21. The traditional German dinner, dancing and singing will occur in a 12,000-square-foot “big top” tent in Trinity’s parking lot.
The tent includes a spacious wooden dance floor and Da Frankenmuda Fratz’n, a Bavarian-style band.
The dinner offers sauerbraten, cucumber salad, German potato salad, bratwurst and sauerkraut as well as imported beer from the Hofbräuhaus in Munich, plus Rhine and Mosel wines, Daenzer said. Guests can purchase up to three drink tokens for $6 each, but beer is not the main focus of the Germanfest..
Traditional attire — lederhosen for men and dirndl for women — is welcome and encouraged but not necessary. Daenzer estimated that about 50 to 100 people will wear traditional Bavarian garb.
“Some people already own lederhosen and dirndls that they’ve bought on trips to Germany,” he said.
In fact, Daenzer’s wife, Jeana, has been sewing seven corduroy lederhosen and eight dirndl blouses, skirts and apron dresses, since June for church members who buy the material they want. It takes about eight to 10 hours during a few days to complete each outfit. The lederhosen are made from men’s corduroy slacks.
She’s been sewing since a seventh grade home-ec class.
“But I figured out how to do all of this on YouTube,” she said. “You can learn to do anything there.”
The Daenzers have two children who attended Trinity Lutheran. Darcy is starting sixth grade this fall at West Middle School and the couple's son Drew is entering ninth grade at West Senior High School.
The church hasn't set a fundraising goal this year.
“Our first priority this year is to make it the best experience, then build from that,” Daenzer said. “It will become an annual event.”
The Germanfest will be hosted from 6:30-11 p.m.