The venerable New Ulm Journal is sadly reporting the demise after 31 years of New Ulm’s annual all-city reunion Heritagefest. Started in 1975, it has been the reason most Ulmers with wanderlust make a summer pilgrimage home.
I grew up one block away from the fairgrounds and remember hearing the savory tones of tubas and accordians that floated on the summer breeze into my window. Many a sweet dream’s foundation was laid by the comforting aroma of flame-licked bratwurst and mash potato mellowed saurkraut. In my formative years, the fairground thoroughfare served as a crusing strip for those without a car.
I did not recognize the true value of Hertigefest until I had moved away. It has been the most common experience shared by Ulmers who have lived and grown up there for the past 30 years. When you go back, you see both those you want to and do not want to see. In either case, it is still good to connect and recognize where you are from and its impact on you.
I have one final plea to save Heritagefest. The organziers need to reevaluate the economic impact on the city and review an ignored funding stream. I my opinion, the primary revenue stream generated by Heritage for the city is not so much hotels, shopping and food. Rather, it is from the fines collected from minor consumptions, underage consumptions and public drunkness violations handed out to its citizens. This cannot be underestimated! Heritagefest leaders, please redo your calcualtions and get back to me.