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 www.hermannmissouri.com 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!)