Schmeckfest Musical is a Feast for the Eyes & Ears

The Schmeckfest meal won’t be the only feast on tap in Freeman this week. Audience members be treated to a feast for their eyes and ears when State Fair opens on the Schmeckfest stage tomorrow night. The sights and sounds of the Iowa State Fair with be on full display, along with stunning sounds of the chorus and orchestra. Ticket-holders will transported back in time to 1946 to accompany the Frakes family on their three-day excursion at the fair.

Aspirations for blue ribbons and romance are weaved into storyline, with Sonja Waltner returning to the Schmeckfest stage as Melissa Frake and Schmeckfest newcomer Peter Tuff in the role of Abel Frake. Ashley Fink, who years earlier made her Schmeckfest debut as the young Gretl in The Sound of Music, portrays daughter Margy Frake, with Josh Hofer as her brother Wayne.

Bringing this year’s musical to life in the role of director is Kris Carlson. A die-hard Rodgers and Hammerstein fan, Carlson is very familiar with the workings and rich traditions of musical theater that we’ve come to expect in the Freeman community. Both of Carlson’s parents, the late Gene and Virginia Kaufman, as well as many other family members, have had a hand in shaping high caliber Schmeckfest productions over the years. Dr. Rolf Olson, an accomplished local musician in his own right, conducts the orchestra. A capable and dedicated team of community volunteers come together behind the scenes and on stage to make for a satisfying evening of musical theater.

Freeman’s long-running German tasting festival was launched in 1959, with a musical stage production added to the festivities in 1967. All had been going strong every year. Every year, that is, until 2020 when a global pandemic made its appearance in our community. That all happened just days before curtain was to go up on Matilda The Musical. And while the COVID pandemic resulted in an abbreviated Schmeckfest meal served “to go” style for three consecutive years, the Schmeckfest stage went dark.

State Fair was originally published as a novel by Phil Strong in 1932 and released as a non-musical movie starring will Rogers and Janet Gaynor the following year. A decade later, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein provided music and lyrics for its remake as a musical film. State Fair ended up being Rodgers and Hammerstein’s only musical to be made into a movie before it was adapted for the stage.

A limited number of tickets for the musical will be available for purchase at the door for performances taking place on March 23, 24 and 25. To check availability of any remaining reserved seats and to explore a listing of past productions, visit

Curtain time is 7:30 PM, with doors opening at 7 PM nightly. Enjoy the show!

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