FREEMAN — The first Schmeckfest, in 1959, ran out of food. The first “Festival of Tasting” did not expect over 1,000 people to arrive. The Low Germans, Swiss and Hutter ethnic foods were served buffet-style and encouraged to “take all you want, but eat all you take,” Foods like stewed beef, sauerkraut, zwieback (twin buns), pluma moos (dried fruit sauce) and kuchen were on the original menu and continue to be crowd favorites.

Family experiences can be difficult to find in the early months of spring. The weeks prior to Easter and planting season allow visitors the opportunity to watch demonstrators make authentic Schmeckfest foods, hear historical stories from the area and participate in a community meal before experiencing a phenomenal musical experience. This year’s production is Matilda the Musical” by Roald Dahl. This festival welcomes all ages.

Schmeckfest is the primary fundraiser for Freeman Academy, a Christian K-12 private educational program that also offers a community daycare program, on-campus student living and prairie arboretum. The event is held in the Sterling Hall Gymnasium and Pioneer Hall Auditorium.

“It’s more than just a fundraiser, Schmeckfest has been a homecoming. It is cultural, it is heritage,” said Norman G. Hofer, Freeman local and historian. He goes on to share, “There is no other group, organization, school or anything around that has anything like it.” The community rallies together and now serves up to 1,000 guests each evening staffed completely by volunteers.

Schmeckfest 2020 is held on March 20-21 and March 27-28, 2020. Demonstrations begin at 1 p.m. and continue until 7 p.m. An additional performance for the musical is available on Thursday, March 26. Advanced meal and show tickets are available at

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