Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hermann, Missouri - Kristkindl Markt

Many people are familiar with the German heritage town of Hermann, Missouri for it's Oktoberfest, but there are other festivals and fun weekends that entice people to visit this Missouri River town.  We chose to visit during the annual Kristkindl Markt weekends in December.  The events were spread over two weekends and we ended up visiting both - too much to see and do in only one day!  Check out the town calendar of events on to plan your visit.

The 'Christmas Pickle' ornament is a popular item

We drive down Missouri hwy 94 to get to Hermann which follows the Missouri River and the Katy (MKT) Trail.  Winter days are great for Bald Eagle spotting along the river.  Our first  stop in Hermann was at Stone Hill Winery.  The market was in their hall for the first weekend of the festival.  Parking was easy - big parking lots- and there were a couple of men with golf carts to take you to the hall if you wanted a lift.  The market was bustling with shoppers buying pottery, art, candles, sausages, nutcrackers, smokers, many kinds of ornaments and more!   There was a booth from the winery offering tastes of the warm spiced Christmas wine (Gluhwein) and a small dining area with wursts, soups and baked goods.

Indoor shopping with many handmade items

We shopped and then decided to take the tour of the winery.  Stone Hill charges a small fee for their tours, but it was informative and interesting.  You don't see any of the actual wine making or bottling - just the fermentation tanks and barrel cellars, but lots of local history is discussed.  After the tour we headed for the tasting room.  We were lucky and happened to be there on a day when the wine was buy a case and get a case FREE!! You also could mix cases - so we started shopping! 

The kids were interested in the old wine barrels

We had to taste in order to decide what to buy!

Merry Christmas to me!

After our wine purchase we headed over to St Georges church for their annual parish dinner and craft sale.  It was a great dinner in the church basement with chicken, turkey and all the fixings.  We ran out of time to visit  other sites on this Sunday - so we planned to come back on the following Saturday.

Our first stop on Saturday was the market which was held in the Festhalle and Hoffgarten.  The hall was decorated with boxwood garland, trees and candles.  Quite a festive event!  Many vendors were packed into the hall where they also had live music on a small stage and a wine bar from Hermannhof Winery which was serving wine, gluhwein (you could get it in a souvenir mug) and beer from the Tin Mill brewery.

Decorated for the holidays

There were benches to sit and enjoy the music

More vendors were in the Hoffgarten buildings where they also had a dining area.  We took a break and enjoyed the soup and German wurst plate along with some beer from Tin Mill.  There were carolers serenading us while we ate lunch.

Time for lunch!

Some of the carols were sung in German

The German school & museum was next on our list.  This tour has a small fee, but it is a self guided tour and you can take your time with the exhibits that interest you.  Two floors of the old school are filled with artifacts and information about the founding Hermann and life from the 1860's until now.  We were amazed with the many different rooms covering areas of home and farm, school, businesses, wars and an entire room dedicated to the riverboat trade.  There is a small store in the museum to purchase books, reproduction items, gifts and during the market weekends they have a German bakery with Stollen, Lebkuchen, Pffernuesse, Springerle and more.

A great example of a local woodcarvers work

I love the dollhouses wherever we go - this one has a Christmas tree!

The St George's rectory tour is a do not miss for this weekend!  This event is very popular and can have a small line waiting to tour, but it is well worth it.  There is a 'free will' offering at the end of the tour (the funds go to the local food bank).   The priest and members of this parish outdo themselves decorating this rectory.  This is Christmas overload in every room!!  There are over 40 decorated trees (over 4ft tall), garlands, nativities, candles, bows and lights everywhere you look. Some of the rooms have a theme and this is a self guided tour - volunteers direct the flow of visitors.

Living room tree with heirloom jewelry

The dining room has a Mardi Gras theme

This bedroom even had a stuffed bear and other animals

Irish themed bedroom

Weinachtsfest is the theme at the Deutschheim State Historic Site.  The home features 19th century trees, toys, cookie samples and information about German Christmas traditions.  There was a small gift shop where you could try the Springerle molds with play dough and there were cookbooks, molds, German 3D greeting cards and more for sale.

Sister city of Hermann is Bad Arolsen

We also visited Hermannhof winery (we do like their Norton and White Lady of Starkenburg) and the Tin Mill Brewery while in town.  Another fun filled sunny winter day complete!

Whatever your holiday traditions may be - we are wishing you a very Merry Christmas and look forward to our travels in 2012! (Maybe we will be coming to YOUR town!)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry

If you are in Chicago then try to find time to visit the Museum of Science and Industry!  We have been going to this museum for our whole lives and still enjoy the exhibits.  There is always something new - and of course our favorites that don't change much.   Admission for adults is $14 and parking is available in the garage for $18.  Members of other museums may get reduced or free admission - check with your home center (St Louis Science Center members get in free).  There are added paid exhibits like the Omnimax movies, coal mine, U505 submarine tours and traveling exhibits also.  We attended the Dr Seuss exhibit on this visit.  No photos were allowed in this area - but it was very good with original works, drawings, cartoons, sculpture and more.  We learned that Dr Seuss rhymes with 'voice' NOT 'goose'!
Contest winner Kevin got to live in the museum for a month!

Transportation Gallery - United Arlines 727, 999 Steam Locomotive, Spirit of America car and many more historic modes of transportation

Science Storms - the science behind natural phenomena of lightning, fire, tornadoes, avalanches, tsunamis, sunlight and atoms in motion

Everyone who knows this museum has their favorite spot - the chicks hatching, coal mine, U505, human development, Finnegan's Ice Cream Parlor, Coleen Moore's Fairy Castle.....  Check the schedules when you go to attend hands on science experiments led by museum staff. 

Gunther von Hagens' circulatory system - there are other body systems and illnesses shown in this way too

One of the many rooms in the Fairy Castle

Who can resist the lightning ball?!
The Museum of Science and Industry is located just off Lake Shore Drive and you can plan your visit by logging on to