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German-American festival in Franklin Square celebrates heritage

Dancers enjoyed traditional German music at Plattduetsche Park

Dancers enjoyed traditional German music at Plattduetsche Park Restaurant in Franklin Square on Saturday, July 8, 2017. Credit: Steve Pfost

It was a day of beer, bratwurst and Bavarian dancing in Franklin Square on Saturday for the 134th Plattduetsche Volksfest, an annual celebration of German-American heritage.

The Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen — a German-American social club that formed in Brooklyn in 1883 — hosted the event at Plattduetsche Park Restaurant, said Matthew Buck of Franklin Square, who has served as the restaurant’s general manager for 11 years.

Buck, 37, said he “fell in love” with the German culture when he was a kid, and hopes to share that experience with future generations.

“For us it’s all about promoting our heritage and culture,” Buck said. “And what better way to promote your heritage and culture than through music, food, dancing and drinks?”

The two-day festival features the restaurant’s traditional German food, such as potato pancakes, wursts, leberkase sandwiches and imported pretzels, Buck said. A brass band played live music throughout the day, and dancers performed in traditional Bavarian costume. Kids activities included a moon bounce, face-painting, candle-making and clowns. Queens and princesses are also chosen at the volksfest each year to participate in the German-American Steuben Parade in Manhattan in September.

Linda Hubner attended the festival as a member of G.T.E.V. Die Gemuetlichen Enzianer, a group that performed Saturday and has aimed to preserve the German heritage through dance and costume for four generations, practicing at Plattduetsche Park. Hubner, 77, wearing a dirndl, or traditional dress, blouse and apron, said she has been dancing with the group for 54 years, and is now joined by her children and grandchildren.

Her favorite things about the volksfest are the “wonderful food,” seeing old friends and being able to display her German heritage, the Massapequa Park resident said.

Ron Fernhout and his wife, Pat, members of a Long Island fan club of the Bayern Munich soccer team, said they come to Plattduetsche Park Restaurant every week during soccer season to watch matches. The two, of Bayside, Queens, donned jerseys at the volksfest Saturday, and come to the festival every year, always enjoying the music and hot dogs on pretzel rolls, said Ron, 73.

“We’ve got to support the German heritage,” he said.

Joe and Kathy Vindigni of Massapequa came to the volksfest for the first time Saturday. While they didn’t know what to expect, they said they enjoyed the brats, beer and music, and thought they would return next year.

“It’s a nice place to enjoy a beer and some good food,” said Joe, 63. “We’re just having a good time.”

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