German Americans of Cleveland

Cleveland Press Articles

Gemutlich is coming to the German Farm

By Eleanor Prech
Cleveland Press, April 28, 1976

Gemutlich — that winsome spirit of all that is cordial and congenial — will trumpet a merry blast on her figurative flugelhorn and Parma's German Central Farm will open on Sunday for its 50th year of summertime frolic and friendship.

Owned by Deutsch Zentrale (German Central Organization) the 37-acre farm at 7863 York Rd., is a sylvan retreat whose motto might well be: Frisch, Fromm, Frei Und Froeh.

There families gather to dance the brisk polka, enjoy the goodness of old friends, find freedom from weekday burdens and know the gaiety inspired by the lifted glass and voices raised in song.

To the young cavalier, it is . . . what? A woodland paradise of wein, weib und gesang which most of us know more familiar as wine, women and song.

To Herr grandpa, resting in a shady spot like some proud and noble burgomeister, it is a pleasant way station where old memories are revived over a glass of sparkling riesling or, perhaps, a cooling draught of beer.

Hausfraus visit one another, comparing notes on their romping children whose energy is fueled by knockwurst, weissewurst and soda pop supplied by solicitous pappas.

And who's to say that parental devotion is not far more important than nutritional values of summertime snacks?

And, ah, the pretty frauleins! Intoxicated by the magic of the waltz, they spin and twirl and cast a flirting eye on the neighbor's unsuspecting son.

Family atmosphere aside, the sprawling picnic grove has been the scene of events which celebrate the culture and history of Greater Cleveland's German-American population.

Banquets, concerts, masquerade balls,"German Day" observances, political rallies and the Fasching--the Teutonic Mardi Gras--have been held in the large clubhouse with its well-kept dance hall and huge rathskeller.

So appealing is the German Central Farm, that it has attracted other ethnic groups, a move which has helped span cultural barriers which may have once existed here.

"In the past years many other groups have availed themselves of our excellent facilities," said Carl Ernst, president for the past 10 years of the German Central Organization.

"Should you come here on Sunday, May 30, for example, you'll find Irish from all parts of the country attending and taking part in their 18th annual 'Feis' a folklore contest.

"And if you come on Sept. 5, the farm will be humming with activities of the four Hungarian scout troops sponsored by the American Friends of Hungarian Scouting."

Church groups are also attracted by the wholesome environment, the spacious picnic grounds, and the recreational facilities available for children.

St. Charles, St. Michael, and Holy Family Catholic Churches are among other religious groups which hold picnics there.

Politicians, who usually have a sixth sense for good sites where the body politic is likely to gather in the thousands, have found the Parma farm a good place for picnics and rallies.

Typical of such gatherings, perhaps, is "Perk Day" — a summertime salute to Cleveland's mayor--which will be held on June 6 by the American Nationalities Movement of Ohio.

Organizations such as the Steuben Society sponsor banquets and dances in the clubrooms. Factory picnics, the WEWS-TV Polka Parade Party, the Pol-Kats picnic--all of them are held at the farm.

And musical groups like the Edelweiss Orchestra, the Melodie Orchestra and the Bavaria Schuhplattler dancers perform there.

Not all is given over to feasting, dancing, singing and the Schuhplattlers, however.

Soon the soccer field, where many a spirited contest has been held, will soon be in operation again.

Both victor and vanquished, however, will be able to exult and grieve in a building which is being renovated to resemble a Viennese Cafe.

But Sunday, May 2, is going to be an extra special day.

That's when it all begins this summer at the big farm.

Listen for the flugelhorn.

And keep your eye out for that winsome sprite — Gemutlich.