Christmas party at Fallasburg scores high
FHS president Ken Tamke speaks about the annual Christmas party held last Saturday at Fallasburg:
In the grips of the polar vortex once again, the cold and the snow, we didn’t quite know what to expect for “Christmas in Fallasburg.” Party planners take note of the scouting motto, “Be Prepared.” Not only did we have one of our best turnouts ever, but the diverse mix of guests, young and old, Villagers and visitors, created a positive party vibe that swept the crowd right up inside it. Bruce and Becca Ling’s Hawks & Owls String Band played inspired. Patty and Melanie’s food was fabulous and so were all the potluck contributions, thanks. Everything was gone at the end of the evening. And, the bonfire… Well, I’ve said all along, it was almost a shame to light it. It was so artfully constructed by Villager, Craig Wood. Enjoying those flames and that heat with those gathered was a most magnificent cap to the evening. Thanks to all who attended and thanks for your support of the Fallasburg Historical Society and our efforts to preserve Fallasburg Village. Happy Holidays!!!
By Emma Palova
Fallasburg, MI -Okay, the Christmas party last week at the one-room 1867 Fallasburg schoolhouse was a smash in spite of the fresh snow outside, freezing cold inside and that some folks have mistaken the bonfire for a real fire.
“After all these years, I think they pretty much have it under control,” said a spectator taking a selfie by the bonfire.
“Can you hear it crackling?”
Christmas in Fallasburg always features the band Hawks & Owls.
Yes, the huge bonfire crackled, melted the snow around it, attracted snowmobile riders and heated up the night.
Some area residents claimed the snow-capped logs of wood and carved their names in them.
“It was our biggest party ever,” said Ken Tamke, Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) president.
Inside the schoolhouse people mingled to the sounds of the strings by the Hawks and Owls band nestled in the far corner by the cold stove.
Not only were there newcomers from near such as Saranac, but there were newcomers from as far as Ukraine like Irina.
Irina, a grad student of history at Grand Valley State University, came to the party with friends.
“This is so authentic,” she said. “I had no idea you could go inside the museum buildings.”
Absolutely. Thanks to the recent efforts of the FHS team, most of the buildings of the Fallasburg historical village dating to 1837 are accessible to the public.
The flagship Fallasburg School serves as the official museum of the FHS, and is open from May to October.
The only exception to public access currently is the gray-bluish Tower Farm, built circa 1850. However, the FHS is working relentlessly to get all the museums up to date.
Recently, the FHS has applied for a grant for some roof repair and website upgrades.
The Christmas party tradition, as a fundraiser for the FHS maintenance of the buildings, has been going strong, according to old-timers.
Edwin Roth, 94, the oldest Fallasburg resident has been coming to the party for at least a decade.
“I am 100 percent Swiss,” he bragged. “My parents came from Switzerland.”
Roth farmed in the area in the 1940s and for many decades beyond. He makes it a point not to miss the annual Christmas party. Long time volunteer Frank Brechbiel escorted Roth into the schoolhouse.
The schoolhouse was beautifully decorated for the season with a dinner buffet and a grog station set up by the windows.
The good people of Fallasburg lovingly called as “villagers” brought in food and desserts.
FHS board member Tina Siciliano Cadwallader made her entrance with a wooden box labeled as “Dangerous Explosives” full of bags of popcorn and other goodies.
Volunteer Patty Brechbiel manned the food station featuring among other dishes three different types of meatballs.
“Are these all the same?” Irina asked.
“No, try them all,” I said.
The party provided an excellent opportunity to check out the “little room in the back” with collections treasures. A young history lover explored the model of the Fallasburg village locked in a glass case.
On display on the shelves were class photos. There was Mrs. Richmond’s class from 1947 and a Fallasburg village plat map on a wooden board.
As the bell rang in the belfry, the chatter and music in the schoolhouse continued into the night. A drive through the lighted Fallasburg Covered Bridge was a perfect ending to a perfect party.
Come visit Fallasburg, located northeast of Lowell, throughout the year. You will treat yourself to a lesson in American pioneer history from the 1830s that started with founder John Wesley Fallass.
You will marvel at the treasures the village has to offer.
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