Prior to Bukovinafest 2017, September 7-9, in Ellis County, KS, some of the guests arrived early for a welcome dinner on September 7th. Selections of three excellent dinners were offered at the Smoky Hill Country Club. Desert was Hemetschwengers, from a pastry recipe brought from Bukovina by the Swabian Germans.
Society members arrived at the headquarters the morning of September 8, for a get acquainted coffee. After a ribbon cutting and welcome to all the guests by the Ellis Chamber of Commerce, some 50 people, members and public, toured the Bukovina Society refurbished museum. Out of area visitors enjoyed Ellis points of interest and were treated to a special ride on the famous “miniature train” by the Railroad Museum staff.
The evening started at 5:30 with a social and dinner, with Cherry Kuchen for desert. Joe Erbert played his hand-made dulcimer, and then was joined by Paul Flax on accordion. Dr. Bill Keel, University of Kansas, led the audience in a series of German songs, the lyrics projected onto a large screen. A few polkas provided for dancing.
The morning session of September 9th began with Al Lang’s presentation on growing up “Austrian” in Ellis with stories and experiences when he was young. He combined a Bukovina quiz with humorous and informative stories. In keeping with a German tendency for long words, he gave the audience one he coined. Bukovinanachkommensgemeinshaftsammlung; Bukovina descendents society meeting. Michael Augustin, Nancy Hoedel and Leah Duda projected photos of their recent tour to the former Bukovina. It featured the rural areas of the country and their common interest in Fürstenthal.
In the afternoon, Doug Reckmann presented on the migration from Bohemia to Bukovina. He gave an illustrated guide to doing research on that ethnic group. Doug has been researching his Bukovina, Switzerland and Hannover heritage since 1968. He plans to publish a book on Schwarzthal, which will include a monograph of all the families who lived there for it’s nearly 100-year Bohemian German existence. Guy Windholz gave a history of the orphan train children with photos and personal stories of those who settled in Ellis County. He graduated from Ft. Hays University and is the Treasurer and museum curator for the Bukovina Society. Dr. Alfred Wildfeuer and Dr. Keel gave presentations on the local German dialect. Dr. Keel has identified every community in Kansas with a German heritage and has recorded their dialects. Dr. Wildfeuer’s presentation focused on the local dialect known, one of the two, the other that of the Swabian Germans. He and Dr. Nicole Eller researched in every colony of Bohemian Germans in Canada and the States.
Members enjoyed another social and dinner in the evening. The buffet was capped with German chocolate cake. After dinner Dr. Keel taught the audience the Schnitzelbank song. A spontaneous special musical event extended the evening entertainment when Al Lang took the accordion, playing and yodeling, a nearly lost tradition of the Bukovinians in the Carpathian Mountains.