Fifteen years ago I was drawn into a discussion between members of the local historical association. The topics were how to attract more members and get more community people to attend their programs and activities.
I wasn’t a member at the time but was asked for comments anyway. Maybe without thinking I answered the first question saying they needed to shake their publicly perceived image of being an elitist group trying to hold on to their claim of having descended from the town’s founders. I didn’t say this was a fair or exact image but lots of people believed it, nevertheless.
The second idea I offered was they should make their events mo’ better fun! A food event needed to be more than cheap boiled hot dogs and brownies from a mix. Programs needed to be titled something other than, “Tatting for leisure and fashionable home decoration in the 21st Century.”
You’ve all heard the saying, “That went over like a fart in church.” Well, that went over like a fart in church. Eyes lazered on me, mouths dropped, and tongues waggled. Possibly not one person gave my thoughts an instant’s consideration before mouthing all the reasons these things wouldn’t work. Most negative responses centered on how offended certain members of the organization and/or community would be “aghast at the thought.”
One activity I suggested, given the strong German and Irish heritage of Greenfield, was an ethnic food and beer garden during the summer festival. Mind you, I didn’t say a get drunk, get naked, and roll in the streets while out of one’s mind, party. I simply had in mind a little corned beef and cabbage, some German sausages with warm potato salad, flushed down with a couple of mugs of Guinness Stout or Beck’s Dark from a keg, all while listening to 78 rpm recordings of The Clancy Brothers or a live oompah band.
Maybe that’s why I never belonged to many organizations, I really don’t care how aghast any one member becomes nor should anyone be aghast at anything I think. An organization isn’t just one or two people and decisions weighed by their character and content, not what one or two members may think.
For whatever reasons, none of which have anything to do with me, in the intervening years much has changed with the historical society. Many active members and leaders have new faces, a number of people have worked their butts off, lots of changes have taken place, and their activities are more varied and more contemporary while still maintaining a needed historical edge. They have greatly added to the societies’ property and preservation projects and are doing an excellent job of maintaining what they are responsible for. While there has yet to be a biergarten on the patio at Traveller’s Rest, they are sponsoring food events that consist of far more than boiled mystery dogs on a stale bun with mustard. Matter of fact they have had some wonderful food events, especially their winter series of Sunday dinners. The Greenfield Historical Society has earned the respect and support of the community and deservedly so.
But, at long last, there is good news on the biergarten front. A recently formed community group, the Greening Greater Greenfield Committee, has organized a celebration of our communities German background. Backing their efforts are the Highland County Visitors Bureau, WVNU, Jay “Pokey” Post, Buck’s Tire Service, Greenfield Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, Save-a-Lot market, and the Yellow Rose Bed & Breakfast. All are working to bring oompah back to Greenfield.
There will be live music by the Zinzinnati Bier Band, German style food will be prepared and sold by various community groups, and thankfully there is going to be a genuine bier and wine garten hosted by, and on the grounds of, the Yellow Rose B&B.
On Saturday, September 24, between the hours of 6-10 p.m. the arrival of autumn will be heralded with a genuine Oktoberfest Celebration at the corners of South and South Washington Streets.
So, mark your calendars, get your lawn chairs back out of storage, scrub and oil your lederhosen, and polish the pewter on your grandpa’s bier stein. The first, and hopefully annual, Oktoberfest der Greenfield is on the way. Think I’ll brush up on my German a little, “Kellner, geben sie mir ein Bier, bitte. Danke!