The Trenton Treffen, by Emily Fricker

Monday was Labor Day, a federal holiday in the United States. The weekend preceding Labor Day has become known as the Labor Day weekend. It is celebrated on the first Monday in September and is considered a special holiday. For the Donauschwaben (Danube Swabians) of the United States and Canada however, this weekend has another special meaning. It is a meeting or reunion of this group of German ethnic people whose ancestors have emigrated to North America from the Danubian Plain, parts of Romania, Hungary, and the former Yugoslavia. It is a special weekend celebrated as a happy festival with music, dancing, singing with friendship, good food and drink.

The festival this year under the name Trenton Treffen was hosted by the Trenton Donauschwaben of Hamilton Township, NJ at the German American Society of Trenton located at Uncle Pete’s Road in Yardville, NJ. The event is also sponsored by the Landesverband der Donauschwaben, USA.

Many from other cities arrived on Friday night and with the local people gather together. This year began with an exciting soccer game between the German American Kickers in white and black uniforms and our German Hungarians of Philadelphia in red and black uniforms. I am not presuming to be a sportswriter, but it was a fast-paced game and enjoyable to watch. The final score was German Hungarians 4 – German Americans 2. My Family and I went to the picnic grove for a while then it was time to go home.

Unfortunately, I was not in attendance Saturday, but I am sure everything went as planned. The opening ceremonies, the national anthems were sung, and the bands began their music. John and Maria and their Friends, The Adler, Die Heimatklaenge and the Polka Panik all played jolly, happy, waltzes, polkas, and even some rock throughout both days. Also, folk dancing was performed during the band breaks both in the clubhouse and in the grove. Food and beverages were also available.

On Sunday, my granddaughter picked me up in Horsham, PA and we headed to Trenton. Arriving prior to 11 am we had time to see the Cultural Exhibit located on the second floor of the GA Society’s main hall. It was very interesting especially seeing a wonderful photo of my Oma and her children (my uncle and my mom and 2 aunts as small children ages one to ten.)

We rode down to the picnic grove, parked, and found our tables to wait for the Mass to begin at 11am. The Priest celebrants were, Fr. Charles Zlock and Fr. Eugene  Wilson. The mass was done mostly in German; the homily was in English. The singers were members of the Franklinville-Schwarzwald Männerchor and the Damenchor Wald-Echo and were directed by Jacqueline Smith.

There was a Rosmarein Strauss in a special vase on the altar. After the homily there was a special blessing of this Strauss. At the end of the German Mass, we usually sing “Grosser Gott wir loben Dich,” and everyone leaves. No one left! It was time instead for a very special Kirchweih!

If you belong to the German Hungarian club and many other Danube Swabian organizations,  you surely know what a “Kirchweih” is.

All the dancers, some dressed in trachts participated. They came! They marched from up near the soccer fields to the stage in the grove. Die Heimatklaenge Band played a march – the march we always use at Kirchweih time. The Strauss with many ribbons on it disappeared from its place on the stage. There it was! The first couple carrying it were Chrissy Martini of Trenton and Sasha Malofiy Jr. of U.G.H. The first maybe twenty couples headed for the stage and the others remained the length of a sort of driveway, (about 2 cars with) and formed a giant oblong. It was impossible to form a circle. They did, however, form a circle on the stage.

Naturally, they all danced a Kirchweih Stückl (a short fast polka step). Then all performed three folk dances, “Beim Kronenwirt” “Romänischer Walzer” and finally “Veilchen Blaue Augen.” Some of the men and women who danced on stage spoke a Kirchweih Spruch that was written by Joe Reiter both in German and in English. Those on stage also waltzed with the Kirchweih Strauss. It is a beautiful sight!

The dancers were from Los Angeles, St. Louis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, Philadelphia, Trenton, Akron, Detroit, Mansfield, Kitchener Ontario, Windsor Ontario, and probably a few other areas. German Hungarian members sold chances for various prizes – a hat – a scarf and the Strauss. With each prize a wonderful, donated prize was also included. The raffle occurred later in the day. The monies earned were  donated to the Stiftung.

We ended the day in the clubhouse as our German Hungarian dancers performed there during the breaks of the Polka Panik band.

So, we decided we were tired, and we would start for home. Many stayed a little longer for some more fun.

On Monday morning when I woke, my face felt funny. I looked in the mirror and was surprised. There was a big smile on my face. It didn’t go away; it stayed there all day!

See you all in Mansfield in 2023!


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