Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
(Video by Tara Schumal)
By Taylar Tramil
Family, faith and community are the fundamental ideals of the Terquasquicentennial celebration of 175 years of the Village of Teutopolis.
Every 25 years the town of Teutopolis holds a festival to celebrate the history and the traditions of their German roots. For every 25 years they do something a little more progressive to keep the enthusiasm going.
“Coming from a German heritage we roll up our sleeves we get with it and roll with it,” said Hank Niebrugge, assistant director of the Terquasquicentennial Celebration. “All volunteer, there is not one bill I have paid for labor yet.”
Everyone has a part in the celebration, 19 ladies of all ages help out. The oldest is 102 and the youngest is 18.
They participate in the First Lady Contest where a lady has to sale tickets, and for every ticket sold each lady is given a point and the one with the most tickets sold is announced the title of First Lady. So far there have been 2,000 tickets sold.
Their celebration will consist of bands for every night and a special German band and orchestra, coming from Germany.
They will also have a Terquasqicentennial play entitled, “Flickenteppich: The Patchwork Quilt”, that was written based on the history of Teutopolis from the beginning to now that will be playing for three nights. There will also be many family oriented fun and games both kids and adults as well.
This celebration has cost $120,000 and they plan on an additional $90,000. The fundraising for this celebration started twoyears in advance and creative fests were generated like the October Fest that occurred in October of last year. The celebration has also gained support from local contributors of the town have also donated, not only money but from restaurants food, like pizza.
The profit from the celebration goes to their Teacher Education Program, and also towards scholarships, and advanced technology for the students. The last 25th anniversary celebration gave back to the community be creating a local park.
Although the town has some funny times, some of the challenges that they undergo during the planning of the celebration, is trying to satisfy everyone in the town, by exceeding their expectations of having something different every 25 years.
They have also experienced problems with having tickets sold out, and having to provide the town with more tickets to be sold. People will also take things differently, so depending on how people take what the town presents things there could be small disagreements. The Village President Greg Hess as well as the director of the celebration has been in contact with complications with the rules and regulations of having celebrations and making sure that nothing is going against the laws.
“It’s hard to have one without the other,” said Babb Zerrusen, from the temporary Keystone Cops. The town keeps its enthusiasm from it humorous personality, which comes hand in hand when it comes to keeping the German traditions and heritage alive.
“Everybody knows everybody, its family,” said Hess.
And with family there is no one left behind, where everyone has something to look forward to. For many people it will be their first time experiencing the celebration for the first time. “We don’t really know what to expect,” said Kaitlin Smith and Alisa Apke, employees of the town’s ice cream shop, Teutopolis Treats.
However, wooden shoes, a hoosegow, and long beards are the fundamentals of this town’s heritage, and when it comes to having fun, they amplify these essentials. This includes dressing up for a day, making their own beer, and beard races, where the men have to grow their beards out as long as possible.
For Bert Verhoeven, the owner of the gas station named Wessle, this would be his third time attending the Teutopolis festival. He first attended in 1964. He is participating in the upcoming play performing as president and as a bishop. He has also been a part of Kangaroo court in the past, which is a tradition of a false court, where he was “arrested” by the Keystone Cops, which is also a fake police, for high prices and was “prosecuted”.
“The community seems to get together and get along,” said Verhoeven.