Bukovina Society Gets New Headquarters
By GERARD PFANNENSTIEL
Thursday – June 13, 1991 * VOLUME 42 – NUMBER 34
Posted with permission of the Ellis County Star, Hays, KS 67601
July 4, 2002
When the Bukovina Society of Ellis county hosts its third annual Bukovina Festival July 11-14, it will have a new headquarters and museum to showcase.
Last week, one of the last pieces of the project for the facility fell into place when the Ellis City Council voted unanimously to pay for all utilities at the new headquarters, and, said Oren Windholz, project chairman, the facility at the First Congregational Church building in Ellis will be open by late June.
Windholz said the society will base itself on the upper floor of the church where it will play artifacts such as pictures and possessions of early Bukovina pioneers, have a computer holding genealogical records of descendants and conduct regular business of the society.
“It’s not a pure tourist center,” Windholz said. “Actually, it’s headquarters where someone can work out of and it’s tourable because of the types of things we collect.”
He added he thought it would be more “on par with the Chrysler, (Boyhood) Home” in Ellis as far as a tourist attraction.
For the third-year, all-volunteer staff organization, the new facility is important for two main reasons. “First, we had nothing (for a headquarters), rotating around offices and homes. Second, we now, have a place where people who come back to visit can associate with their heritage,” Windholz said.
Because there is no current monument to the Bukovina ethnic background, Windholz said, the new facility will serve as “an identity point for people of this heritage.”
Response so far to the move, according to Windholz, is “very positive.” He said he felt the round of applause given after the Ellis City Council assistance was approved was “indicative of the wide-spread support of the city.”
In fact, Windholz sees the Chrysler home and the museum headquarters as attracting tourists for each other. People who tour one are “likely” to visit the other, he said. “It’s compatible to have more of those things compliment each other,” he said.
When beginning the search for the new headquarters this’ past Winter, Windholz said the organization didn’t look at “a lot of places” before deciding to try to get the church location.
Members of the society are descendants of Lutheran and Catholic Germans who migrated to Bukovina, Austria and then to Ellis. According to Windholz, 600 people make up the group’s mailing list, with about 300 of those being active members. The society boasts members in half of the states, Canada and Mexico.
The society has as its major project each year the annual Bukovina Festival. Over the first two years of the gathering, 350 and 400 people respectfully attended the festival, which includes traditional songs, meals and entertainment, said Windholz. This year, authentic German dancers will be added, and the number attending looks to rise, Windholz added.
Working with the society on part of the festival is the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau, and, said Windholz, “it’s that type of support that makes it easier to run a volunteer organization.”
According to Windholz, the identities of Bukovina and Volga Germans of the area are quite parallel since most left Germany at about the same time and migrated to the U.S. within 10 years of each other.