Brief Historical Outline of the Jasper Strassenfest
Courtesy of Ron Flick, Jasper Strassenfest Historian
Pioneer German Days is celebrated in Jasper from July 1st through 6th.
The Dubois County Daily Herald prints a commemorative edition of the newspaper with articles written in German.
The first Strassenfest is held in Jasper. Organized by the members of the Jasper business community, it is the first celebration dedicated to Jasper’s German heritage since Pioneer German Days in 1957.
Members of the first Strassenfest Committee include Charles Stenftenagel (chairman), Jim Harris, Anne Gootee, Paul Seidl, Jack Brandt, Bernie Vogler, Cliff Dugan, Pete Sermersheim, Charles Tagliereni, Tom Hynes, Dennis Kelly, and Ken Sternberg.
The first weekend of August is chosen for the celebration, with events scheduled from Thursday evening to Sunday evening.
The Queen Contest is held on opening night on the Main Stage, which is located on the northeast side of the courthouse.
The Beer Garden is located in the parking lot at the northeast corner of the Square.
The carnival rides are located on the south side of the Square.
The first “Wettlauf” is run on Saturday morning, with separate 5K, 10K, and “Fun-Run” divisions.
The “Home-Made Parade”, organized by the Jasper Optimist Club, is held on Saturday afternoon on Main Street.
Activities and events include train rides at the Southern Railway train station, a firemen’s waterball contest, a skate-boarding exhibition, a volleyball tournament at Parker Park, a horseshoe tourney, a golf scramble, a baby contest, and a puppet show.
Members of the JAWS swim team hold a synchronized swimming and diving exhibition at Jasper Municipal pool on Saturday evening.
A car show is held on Sunday morning at the girls’ softball field at 1st and Clay Streets.
The closing ceremonies at Alumni Stadium include an “Anything Goes” competition, a band concert by the Mittelbuch Band of Mittelbuch, West Germany, and a fireworks display.
The Jasper Deutscherverein German Club is established.
The opening ceremonies include a salute to the 150-year anniversary of Jasper’s founding in 1830, presented by Historic Jasper, Inc.
Friday evening events include an arm wrestling contest, two German music bands, and the first rock/pop performance at a Strassenfest by “Symple Fact”, a local band of musicians.
Saturday activities include a hay-bale contest, sponsored by the Jasper High School FFA, and a skating contest, sponsored by the Skate Palace.
Sunday events at the river include a carp-fishing contest, a tug-of-war, and a canoe race.
The first bed race is run on Sunday afternoon on Main Street, north of the courthouse.
The Schnitzelbank Band provides music at the opening ceremonies, followed by a musical program by the Community Choir and a men’s and women’s barbershop quartet exhibition.
A farmers’ market is held on Saturday afternoon at the Older Americans’ Center.
The first Talentspiel is held on Wednesday evening at the Jasper Civic Auditorium.
Saturday events include a “Big Wheel” tricycle race for the children and a “Trink- Rennen” (drink race) for the adults.
The First Presbyterian Church holds its first “Arts and Crafts Fair” at Library Park.
Opening ceremonies include the “Ceremonial Tapping of the First Keg” on the Main Stage.
German music during the fest is provided by the Jay Fox Band, die Dopple Adler Musikanten, and the Evansville Germania Maennerchor.
Saturday events include the rechristened “Festival on the Green” at Library Park, a pet contest at Parker Park, the relocated volleyball tournament at 10th Street Park, and a sailing regatta at Patoka Lake.
Sunday activities include an archery contest, a “Spasslauf” fun-walk around downtown, and a bar stool race after the bed race.
A “Mini-Anything Goes” contest, for youths aged 8-10, is held on Friday evening at Library Park.
The first Strassenfest bowling tournament is held at Eastown Lanes.
The Cincinnati Sonnenschein Band provides music each evening.
The Sister Cities Partnership with Pfaffenweiler is established earlier in the year, with several residents from the German village visiting Jasper in May.
The Strassenfest this year is dedicated to Bill Schroeder and his family, who are made “Honorary Hosts”. Bill’s heart surgeon, Dr. William DeVries of Louisville, is selected as the Strassenfest’s first-ever Grand Marshal.
The Strassenfest booklet features for the first time a two-page historical retrospective, written by Historic Jasper, Inc.
A new event on Saturday is the “Hinderniskurs”, or obstacle course, for high school students at Alumni Stadium.
The Budweiser Clydesdales make their first Strassenfest appearance and serve as Grand Marshalls of the Sunday parade.
Local physician, 88-year-old Dr. St. John Lukemeyer, serves as “Guest Host” during the fest.
The first Little Miss Strassenfest contest is incorporated into the Queen pageant on opening night.
New events include a teen dance at the “Root Beer Garden”, a keg toss at the river, and the “Autolauf” road rally.
Long-time favorites, die Alpen Echoes, from Cincinnati, perform high-energy German music for the first time at the fest.
A German folk dance troupe from Marienfeld, Westphalia, entertains at the closing ceremonies.
Special guests include sixty-five residents from the village of Pfaffenweiler, including the thirty-five member “Batzenberger Winzerkapelle Pfaffenweiler” music club and the folk dance group.
Herman “Hermie” Kiefer, 91-year-old Jasper native and former fire chief, whose parents were born in Pfaffenweiler, is Guest Host.
The log-sawing contest makes its debut.
The U.S. Army’s Screaming Eagle Parachute Demonstration Team entertains a large Strassenfest crowd.
Former IU basketball star, Steve Alford, participates in the bed race.
The Miss/ Little Miss Strassenfest Queen Contest is moved indoors to the Jasper Civic Auditorium and held on Wednesday evening for the first time.
The “Cutting of the First Bratwurst” is added to the opening ceremonies.
Special acts include Scheer’s Lumberjack Show of Champions, from Wisconsin, and the U.S. Army Screaming Eagles Parachute Demonstration Team of the 101st Airborne Troupe.
A long-time Jasper tradition, the Box Parade, formerly held on Labor Day weekend, is incorporated into the Strassenfest festivities and held on Friday evening.
The final bed race is run, until its brief revival twenty years later.
Polka masses are held at each of Jasper’s three Catholic churches for the first time. The Harmonika Boys, from Hamilton, OH, provide the music.
A laser show replaces the “Anything Goes” portion of the closing ceremonies.
Appearing in the Strassenfest Parade is the Jasper Engines-sponsored #77 Nascar race car with driver Ken Ragan. This is the second year that Jasper Engines has sponsored a car on the Winston Cup circuit.
The fifth and final historical retrospective, written by Historic Jasper, Inc., appears in the Strassenfest booklet.
The Strassenfest celebrates “Jasper’s 125th Anniversary of Incorporation: 1866-1991” with special events and a commemorative booklet filled with historic photos. This is the first Strassenfest to feature a theme.
The “Bicycle Marathon” is held for the first time on Sunday morning.
The first “$100,000 Hole-in-One Shootout” is held at the new Sultan’s Run Golf Course.
The Trachtenverein Almrausch folk group, from Wasserburg, Bavaria, performs at the fest.
The “Anything Goes” contest returns to the closing ceremonies.
Evansville television station WFIE broadcasts its 5 o’clock news from the Main Stage.
Karaoke is performed for the first time at the fest.
Local favorites, the Super Gold Revue, perform with numerous costume changes during Saturday and Sunday evening shows.
The final “Anything Goes” competition is held.
The Pfaffenweiler Accordion Club and the Pfaffenweiler Traditional Dance Group, along with other residents from the Pfaffenweiler area, are special guests at the fest.
The Budweiser Clydesdales make their second appearance.
New events include a bench press contest, sponsored by the Fitness Factory, and a “Steppin’ in the Streets”, sponsored by First Class Fitness.
The Strassenfest adopts it first non-centennial theme: “Rock Around the Clock”, and hosts Mike Harvey and his “Super Gold Sock Hop” for the first time.
The hot air balloon race and sheephead tournament make their debuts.
A chicken dance contest is scheduled for the first time in the Beer Garden.
The Patoka 2000 Duck Race is moved to Strassenfest weekend.
The fest pays tribute to the 100 anniversary of the Jasper Volunteer Fire Department.
Grand Marshal is native son, Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
Tethered hot air balloon rides are offered to the public.
The chili cook-off is held for the first time.
The Indiana Skydiving Exhibition Team, along with three local parachutists, make a drop at the closing ceremonies.
A new, larger Main Stage is constructed in the northeast corner of the Square, after years of being located on the west side of the courthouse.
The first Little Mister Strassenfest contestants compete at the Queen’s pageant.
The “Home Brew” competition is introduced.
The Pfaffenweiler Stone Carvers Group and the Snail Valley Alpine Horn Blowers pay a special visit to the Strassenfest.
A children’s waterball contest is held.
Music is incorporated into the fireworks for the first time at the closing ceremonies.
The “Harmonie” German Brass Band from Wagshurst performs at the fest. Hundreds of immigrants from the Wagshurst area comprised most of the first settlers in the Jasper area.
The Trachtenverein Almrausch folk dance group from Wasserburg, Bavaria makes its second appearance at the fest.
The Dubois County Museum holds its grand opening in the 150-year old Gramelspacher-Gutzweiler House.
The Riverwalk and Plaza are available to the Strassenfest patrons for the first time.
The first youth golf tournament is held.
The 3-on-3 basketball and co-ed volleyball tournaments return as part of the events schedule.
St. Joseph Church tours are scheduled for the first time.
The “Auto Schau” and pork barbecue contest are introduced.
No significant changes or additions are made this year.
Fred Scheer’s Lumberjack Show makes a return engagement.
ROJAC hosts the groundbreaking for the new Jasper Train Depot
Ground is broken on ROJAC’s second major project, the Jasper City Mill, although actual construction won’t begin until 2008.
Pfaffenweiler residents, including Grand Marshals Franz and Baerbel Hilger, along with the Alpine Horn Blowers group, are special guests at the fest.
First Presbyterian Church’s twenty-fourth consecutive and final “Festival on the Green” is held at Library Park.
Train rides are offered for the first time since the initial Strassenfest in 1979.
The ROJAC-rebuilt Schaeffer Log Barn is open to Strassenfest visitors for the first time.
Mike Harvey makes his last appearance at the Strassenfest.
Many of the previous thirty Miss Strassenfest Queens return for a special reunion during the Queen’s Pageant.
A whole new lineup of musical and entertainment groups is introduced to the Strassenfest schedule.
New or reintroduced events include the “ceremonial cutting of the first bratwurst” at the opening ceremonies, the bratwurst-eating contest, a local barbecue contest, a pancake breakfast, the home brew competition, and a reinvented Arts and Crafts Festival at the train depot grounds.
The bed race returns after a twenty-year hiatus.
The Budweiser Clydesdales make their third appearance at the Strassenfest.
The Jasper City Mill opens to the public, with special guests, new Pfaffenweiler mayor, Dieter Hahn, and his family.
The first KCBS-sanctioned barbecue contest is held on the grounds adjacent to the Schaeffer Log Barn.
The Miss/ Little Miss and Mister Pageant is moved to the Saturday before the Strassenfest and split into separate programs. A Junior Miss segment is added to the evening program.
The Indianapolis Blue Base Ball Club, a member of the Vintage Base Ball Association, plays two exhibition games at Schroeder Complex.
The third and final bed race of the 2000s is run on Sunday afternoon after the parade.
The Arts Festival is moved to the large lot near the Schaeffer Barn.
The Childre’s Center for Dance Education of Evansville performs the Hansel and Gretel Ballet at St. Joseph’s Parish’s Kundek Hall.
The fourth and final KCBS-sanctioned barbecue contest is held.
The Celebration Singers perform a prelude after which doves are released as part of the opening ceremonies.
A “flash mob” does a surprise performance during opening ceremonies.
The stein-holding contest is introduced, replacing the bratwurst-eating contest.
The Children’s Center for Dance Education in collaboration with Dance Central Academy perform the Nutcracker Suite Ballet.
The Diaper Derby is introduced.
The Indianapolis Blues vintage baseball club returns and plays a doubleheader against the Indianapolis Hoosiers.
The scheduled return of the Sunday evening fireworks show is canceled due to the drought, heat, and fire concerns.
Young ballet dancers from Dance Company No. 1 of Augsburg, Bavaria join with Dance Central Academy members in a performance at the Cabby O’Neill Gymnasium.
A “Backyard Barbecue Contest” open to all area teams, and a motorcycle show are introduced.
Fireworks return on Sunday evening.
Many new art-related activities and events are scheduled in association with the theme, “Alive with the Arts.”
The rechristened “Art & Wine Festival” is held at the Buehler Plaza.
The Jasper Lions Club stages the first “Dachshund Dash” at Schroeder Complex.
The Jasper Stone Carver Group presents its first Strassenfest demonstration at the Dubois County Museum.
The Chardon Polka Band joins perennial favorite, Das Alpen Echoes, in the Bier Garten.
Approximately forty residents of Pfaffenweiler, including the village’s Stone Carver Group, and Karin Horst, the fest’s Co-Grand Marshal, are special guests of the Strassenfest.
A sculpture by local artist Zach Dawkins commemorating the early pioneers is unveiled at the Schaeffer Barn.
The new mural at 6th and Newton Streets commissioned by Jasper Deutscher Verein is formally dedicated.
A Plaque commemorating Jasper’s founding in 1830 is affixed to City Hall and dedicated.
As redevelopment of Old Jasper near Patoka River prepares to start, several events are moved from the Schaefer Barn area to 2nd Street Complex; the car show is moved to Jaycee Park.
Mild weather brings in record crowds.
Next Act’s renovation of the Astra theatre was complete in April 2018 and the facility is used for a 1st Strassenfest event, a free children’s movie.
Opening Ceremonies include traditional German song and dance, the Maipole returns.