Spring of 2023 marks the long-awaited return of one of South Dakota’s longest-running festivals: Schmeckfest. After being derailed in 2020 as a result of COVID, a wide assortment of Schmeckfest activities are set to take place on the campus of Freeman Academy and at Heritage Hall Museum and Archive in Freeman on Friday and Saturday, March 24 and 25.
Leading up to the big event will be the opening night performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “State Fair” taking the stage in Pioneer Hall on Thursday night, March 23. The musical will also be presented on Friday and Saturday evenings, with a 7:30 PM curtain time for all three shows. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door each night.
The traditional “Germans from Russia” meal, with advance ticket purchases required, will be served on Friday and Saturday. Additional German foods, including sausage and backed delicacies will be available for purchase and local experts will demonstrate how to make poppyseed rolls, fleisch kuechle, noodles and more. Complete details, as well as any remaining tickets, can be found at Schmeckfest.com.
Heritage Hall Museum & Archives, located adjacent to the campus, will observe extended hours during Schmeckfest. They’ll be open from 10 AM until 7 PM on March 24 and 25. The purchase of a wristband will enable Schmeckfest guests to enjoy for ongoing access to the museum throughout the festival. An extensive line-up of demonstrations, stories, and treasures will be available throughout the museum’s 25,000 square feet of exhibit space. Special presentations start at 1 PM both days, with a full schedule is available at Heritage Hall Museum dot com.
The first Schmeckfest was held in 1959, with a musical production added to the mix of annual festivities in 1967. Over the years, the celebration has spanned three full days in earlier years and later shifted to Fridays and Saturdays during two separate spring weekends. The COVID pandemic caused for three years without musical performances and led to providing the German meal for take-out.
In response to a variety of factors – including the ability to secure workforce to bring Schmeckfest to life – organizers have opted for the event to run as a two-day celebration for its return this year.
The entire Freeman community looks forward to once again welcoming guests to town for the celebration. Noteworthy changes around town in the past year include a newly reconstructed Main Street and an 18-lot housing development edging the west side of town.