New Ulm, Minnesota

 (Oktoberfest 2001)


On a warm fall day head out of the city of Minneapolis following the Minnesota river valley west. To the southwest of the "cities" and an hour or two away, you will find the small city of New Ulm, Minnesota. Nestled in a river valley, New Ulm was settled by Bohemian Germans from the Province of Wurttemberg, Germany. Also another group settled that were known as "Turners". The statue commemorating the immigrants was a sculpture by Leopold Hafner who lives near Passau, Germany. New Ulm was incorporated in 1857. Hardships in the early years included the Dakota Indian Conflict of 1862, the grasshopper infestation of 1870, and the 1881 cyclone. Minnesota claims a Scandinavian heritage but the larger proportion of the settlers were of German descent. It is claimed it was originally designed that this new community of the 1800's would have no churches and no lawyers. Much has changed since those early days. Several times a year New Ulm hosts festivals (winter brings the Bockfest and Fasching, and summer has the Heritagefest) and in the fall there has to be an Oktoberfest. This year was the city's 20th annual celebration. The Oktoberfest seems to center around the Holiday Inn motor hotel but the whole city celebrates the visitors from all over the world. German flags fly and the food and beer are in abundant supply.     The Concord Singers, a male chorus based in New Ulm, perform several times a day alternating with other bands, both local and from Germany. The Concord Singers are "Ambassadors of Good Will" of the City of New Ulm and also travel to Germany, Austria, France and Switzerland (plus all over the USA) where their singing and humor are appreciated. This year "Die Wilderer" were one of the featured groups from Germany and their high spirited music added to the festivities. Plenty of brass and the ever present accordion assured that all could step out many times to the beat of the polka sounds.  Dancing with and without partners is perfectly acceptable and costumed Narren characters work the audience to assure the dance floor is full and the line dancing snakes throughout the hall.

Every German town has a brewery and New Ulm is no exception. Actually there are several local "brews" but the largest assortment and of the longest tradition is the August Schell Brewery just outside of town on 30 acres by the Flandrau (1006 acre) State Park on the Cottonwood river. In the Dakota Conflict of 1862 the town of New Ulm was burned but August's brewery was left untouched. The brewery is the second oldest family-owned brewery in the USA. Since 1860 their products have included the dark and the light,.... the Ale, Bock, and the Pilsener. It is a fun place to tour in the fall of the year especially. Great gardens and the residence, the gift shop, and the friendly staff add to the touring experience. It is not unusual to find the unusual on the brewery grounds; perhaps a peacock wandering through the garden. One of the more famous of their products came about during the Prohibition time period in the USA, the famous 1919 Root Beer which is appreciated by old and young alike. If you are of the persuasion to sample their products I am sure you will find them more than happy to oblige. New Ulm is a great town to wander the streets. You will find architecture characteristic of Ulm, Germany. The churches (Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and St Paul's Lutheran) add to the style of the town as the churches do in Germany..... but also the parks, shops, and wide streets make it special to stroll through the town. You would expect a BMW or a Mercedes on the streets of New Ulm but you may also come upon a vehicle of an older German heritage.  You will find the authentic German restaurant called Veigel's Kaiserhoff which features barbecue ribs, Schnitzel Vienna style, smoked pork chops, Landjaeger, and the fixings of potato salad, sauerkraut, strudel or a chocolate cake to go with it. The German butcher shop called "The Sausage Shop" is right on Broadway near several great gift shops.  Nearby and a block from the city center, the Brown County museum was once the 1910 post office and is on the National Register of Historical Places. It has 3 floors of exhibits depicting the early settler's lives and those of the Dakota Indians. This is also the place to do research as the museum's library is open to the public and has over 5000 family files. The Domeier gift shop is a must to see and like a visit to the enchanted old country of the Black Forest.


The Glockenspiel is situated in Schonlau park just off the main intersection and stands 45 feet tall. When the door slides up and the stage projects, it reveals 12 characters depicting the history of the city. You will find the animated characters and music a restful break on your city stroll.