Every year, the Pommerscher Verein Freistadt in Mequon, Wisconsin puts on its annual Pommerntag. Last year was no different. The 42nd Pommerntag was held on June 25, 2017, at Rotary Park in its usual fashion.
The North Reuter Pavilion housed a plethora of genealogy resources, everything from photographic displays to family name indexes. Several booths had different resources and souvenirs available for purchase, including maps and Heimat books. Several bound volumes containing family names were conveniently located on the table and free to search through.
Back outside, the wind blew furiously, stretching out the flags of both the U.S. and the Pomerania against a cloudy backdrop. Tents were packed with people eating varied assortments of German foods: bratwursts, sauerkraut, herring sandwiches, cold cherry soup, potato salad, Black Forest cherry torte, apple and cherry strudel, and several types of beer on tap. If you were to look closely, you might have also noticed Dr. Martin Luther and his wife Katie standing in line for their lunch as well–a friendly reminder of the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation.
To kickstart the afternoon’s festivities, the band began playing “Das Pommernlied.” This was followed by the Alte Kameraden band playing their Oom-pah-pah music and polka while onlookers ate and conversed. I was lucky enough to speak with a man who was born near Stolp and had immigrated to the United States. The old German accent was refreshing to hear, along with his stories of what it used to be like there. The consensus around was that Pommern has greatly changed from how the natives remember it.
During breaks, the Pommersche Tanzdeel Freistadt took the stage in traditional baltic tunics, dancing with the vigor of lively young men and women. These tunics, of course, would not have been worn every day. They were worn almost like good Sunday clothes. One of my favorite dances was an odd-man-out number where one man would have to plead with the women to let him cut in and dance, much to the dismay of another man.
When the celebration festivities ended, my wife and I decided to visit the local Bier Stube in Germantown, Wisconsin. As a native of Minnesota, we have several restaurants within a 25-mile radius. However, none of them compare to the authenticity and flavor of the Von Rothenburg Bier Stube in Germantown. The friendly outdoor Biergarten was exactly the way I remember Germany from my time abroad, lit with string lanterns from post to post and tree to tree. I would eventually wander inside to see what the restaurant looked like. As with any experience with German beer, one must usually visit the bathroom. I found it entertaining to read the caption above the toilet in the men’s room: “Sitzen, nicht spritzen.”
Both my wife and I were sad to leave, but we plan to visit the festivities at Pommerntag again.