NEWINGTON - This spring and summer will be a special time for the Hartford Sangerbund.
Celebrating its 160th anniversary, the German club and singing society has several events in the works and members are asking the public to take part.
It all starts this Saturday with a traditional German Maifest at the clubhouse, located at 19 N. Mountain Road in Newington. Members and guests will ring in the arrival of spring with a party from 1 to 8 p.m., to feature bratwursts, beer and other beverages, live music by the Adlers Band and other activities. Admission is $5 per person, with food and drink sold separately. Children 17 and younger get in free.
The Adlers are a German group whose wide repertoire includes the lively “oompa” music.
“They’re excellent,” club President Amy Swank said. “Unlike a lot of other bands who are out there right now they’re using real instruments, not the synthetic stuff.”
Maifest chairman Lance Frazon is looking forward to a communal dance around the Maypole.
“It’s a four-couple dance and there will be audience participation,” he said.
Frazon is also planning the biennial Bierfest, perhaps the most popular event for the greater Newington community.
“Our attendance for Bierfest ranges from 3,000 to 5,000 people over the course of the three days,” he explained. “Everyone always enjoys coming down and hearing good German music and enjoying good German food and beer.”
About 200 volunteers facilitate the weekend’s activities, Friday, Aug. 24 through Sunday, Aug. 26. A band from Germany will be performing and the menu will include a smorgasbord of international specialties, from homemade potato pancakes and sausages to traditional cakes.
“Maintaining these cultural traditions are really important to my family and members,” Frazon added. “It’s a way of celebrating everything we’ve done the last 160 years.”
His wife, Linda, comes from one of the club’s founding families. Her father brought the choral society to town from Hartford many years ago.
At the heart of the year’s anniversary activities is a concert and dinner banquet set for June 9. At least 40 members will join those from other German singing societies to perform choral works by Beethoven, Mozart and others. The free concert begins at 4 p.m. at the Salvation Army Citadel, 661 Main St. in Manchester. This will be followed by a dinner-dance at the Manchester Country Club, 305 S. Main St. at 6 p.m. The menu will include a choice of prime rib, baked salmon or chicken cordon bleu. Tickets are $75 per person. To make reservations call Ginny Scheller at 860-282-0778.
Anniversary Committee chairwoman Carol Weber emphasized the importance of celebrating.
“It’s a historical milestone in a time of declining ethnic clubs,” she said. “It shows the determination of members to bring in new people. Celebrating will help us hold true to our German heritage and culture as we continue to grow.”
Swank joined in 1981 when she and her husband, Phil, came here from a largely-German community in Pennsylvania. Both worked on the anniversary events before Phil passed away over the winter.
“He would be really proud that this is continuing in the way it is,” Swank said.
Having presided over the club for many years, Phil will be the program’s honoree.
“When you stop and realize how few cultural organizations last this long to begin with, it’s really an amazing accomplishment,” Swank pointed out. “It’s humbling to think of all who came before us and their dedication to their German heritage. It’s a source of pride for all of us.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming events at The Hartford Sangerbund:
May 5 – Maifest from 1-8 p.m. at the clubhouse, 719 N. Mountain. Rd., Newington
June 9 – 160th Anniversary Celebration
4 p.m. Choral concert at the Salvation Army Citadel, 661 Main St., Manchester
6 p.m. Dinner-dance at the Manchester Country Club, 305 S. Main St., Manchester
Aug. 24-26 – Bierfest at the clubhouse, 719 N. Mountain Rd., Newington