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Fryburg Dutch Homecoming


Fieldworker: Harriet Carr

The preparations for the festival, particularly the setting up of booths and rides, requires a do-it-yourself attitude combined with community cooperation and general mechanical know-how upon which Fryburgers pride themselves.  In both the hundred year book and the many personal experience narratives collected from my informants this attitude appears again and again.
-- Harriet Carr, fieldworker for this collection, 1979.

The single item in this collection is a brief but detailed account of a community festival in the small town of Fryburg, near Wapakoneta in western Ohio: the Fryburg Dutch Homecoming.  The festival continues to take place on the Sunday before Labor Day, and is celebrating its 125th year in 2015.

At the time of the collection, Fryburg was a rural community of around 160 people largely descended from Catholic and Lutheran German immigrants.  The Fryburg Homecomming is coordinated by St. John Catholic Church, located in the heart of town -- Carr noted that the Lutheran church (also named St. John) was located more remotely, along with its parishoners.  The Fryburg Homecoming of the late 1970s drew between 2,000 to 3,000 people from 50 miles around, and was a favorite time to visit for those who had moved away.

Carr's report suggests that the Fryburg Homecoming allowed community members to practice, articulate, and pass on the values that they held dear: hard work and self-reliance, craftsmanship and artistry, generosity and economic prosperity, and boisterous celebration.  She also highlights the economic relationship between the festival and the church (it brought in $15,000 in 1978), as well as the important role of the beloved Father Tebbe, pastor of the church from 1938 until his death in 1972. Father Tebbe continues to be actively memorialized by the Fryburg community today, and the festival's famous mock turtle soup, which is cooked communally in large kettles, was adapted from his mother's own recipe. (Wapakoneta Daily News, "Fryburg to kick off 121st Festival," 2012).