After a decades-long absence, FruhlingFest returns to Main Street in Warrenton Saturday, June 15.
FruhlingFest, translated to English from German, is “spring festival.” The event will feature dozens of vendors, German food, live, and authentic German polka music, kids activities, a car show sponsored by Town & County Garage, and 5K run and more.
“People should travel from one end of Main Street to the other to see all that there is to see,” said Stacey Blondin with the Warrenton Downtown Association, the organization hosting the event. Registration for the run is at 7:30 a.m. at the parking lot at Warrenton City Hall. The run starts at 8 a.m.
The main event is 4-7 p.m. on Main Street, which will be closed to traffic.
Blondin said FruhlingFest will feature about 35 vendors. Also in attendance with activities or goodies for visitors will be Scenic Regional Library, the Warren County Historical Society, Kiwanis Club, Chef Lee Gustin, owner of Blue Anchor Coffee and Bistro; the Warrenton Fire Department and Long Row Lavender. Friedens United Church of Christ will have baked goods available.
The group is reviving the event for many reasons. One is to attract more people to the downtown area, Blondin said, to shop or consider establishing a business there.
“But the main goal is to bring people together downtown, which is the heart of our community, and the heart of our county,” said Blondin. “That and to celebrate our German heritage. I don’t think people realize the extent of our German heritage.”
German heritage will be part of the event’s food and activities. Gustin will be preparing a German feast. The 5K Run includes a costume contest. The best German heritage costume will be recognized. Members of the Warren County Historical Society will be at the historical Schowengerdt House.
Blondin said Warrenton was a college town for a time. There was an orphanage. Children took trains from across the United States to live there.
“When people sit down to hear the stories about who we are and how we got here, they’ll be amazed,” Blondin said.
This won’t be the first FruhlingFest for a lot of longtime residents.
“In the early 1980s they used to have the FruhlingFest downtown on Main Street. It was pretty big. I remember going to it when I was a kid,” Blondin said, adding that her grandmother would take her.
“They had 60 vendors, crafters, fabric people, wood makers... It didn’t last very long, just a few years,” she said.
Among those vendors, based on a 1982 event brochure, were leathers, oil paintings, folk art, quilts, gemstone jewelry, pottery and baked goods. They all were set up on the sidewalk along stores on Main Street like Sprick Jewelry, Lohmans Variety, Avis Hardware, Kathryn’s, Gennie’s Hobby Shop and others.
The pie eating contests this year start at 6 p.m. Space is limited so participants should look for the sign-up table and get their names in early. There are slots for children and adults.
“They did that in the ’80s, so we wanted to bring that back too,” Blondin said.