A ceremony was held on September 20, 2003 during the opening ceremonies of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest

to recognize Ellis County as the official

"German Capital of Kansas".


Photo below: Signing of the official "German Capital of Kansas" documents. 

Below photos: Local city and county officials signing of the official

"German Capital of Kansas" documents.

Shortly after the first Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest was held in the fall of 2002 and during the planning of 2003 German Heritage Days, it was recognized that Ellis County had more German attractions, events, festivals and historic German churches then any other county in Kansas. In addition, figures released from the 2000 census showed Ellis County had the highest population of Kansans that claimed German ancestry and a very high percentage (47%) of total county population with German ancestry. Many of the residents still speak German at home and practice German customs that have been handed down to them from their ancestors. Although it might seem obvious that Ellis County was recognized as the German Capital of Kansas because of the number of German polka bands that have come from this area or because of a renowned German restaurant, those were not the main considerations. Even though there is not just one restaurant that serves a full menu of Ellis County Volga German food on a daily basis, there are actually seven different restaurants that offer various German menu items throughout the week, as lunch specials or as a Friday evening German buffet. It was because of the significance of the German attractions, events, Oktoberfest celebrations and high percentage of residents that trace their ancestry to German origins, that Ellis County was named the German Capital of Kansas.     


Ellis County actually has two primary groups that claim German ancestry. The Volga Germans who first started arriving here in 1876, and the Bukovina Germans who arrived in 1886. One of the best locations for learning about and understanding the Volga German Heritage of Ellis County is at the Center for Ethnic Studies located on the campus of Fort Hays State University. The Bukovina Museum in Ellis and the Ellis County Historical Society Musuem in downtown Hays also provide the history and information about these German immigrants. You can find out more about these museums and the Center for Ethnic Studies by clicking on the attractions link. There are also six different organizations in Ellis County that support and promote the German Heritage of our area. To learn more about these groups, click on the contacts link and visit their websites.





DATE: October 10, 2003                                                                  


Ellis County Historical Museum to receive proclamation for German Capital of Kansas


Hays, KS - The Ellis County Historical Society Museum has announced they will hold a ceremony on Tuesday October 28th at 1 p.m. to receive the three German Capital of Kansas certificates that were signed on September 20th during the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest. Oren Windholz, president of the Bukovina Society of the Americas, will present the certificate awarded by their board of directors. John Smith, chairman of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association will donate a framed document signed by the Ellis County commissioners and officers of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association. The official German Capital of Kansas proclamation will be presented to the museum by Ruben Schuckman from the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau.


The mission of the Ellis County Historical Museum is to collect, display, and preserve items that illustrate the counties history. Because the title of German Capital of Kansas is an important event in the history of Ellis County, the museum plans to display the certificates, letters of support and other documents pertaining to this occasion. Letters of support and recognition were received from two national German organizations including a letter from the president of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society. A letter of support from Scott Allegrucci, director of the Kansas Division of Travel and Tourism, will also be donated to the museum for display. In his letter he mentioned "The designation will aid Ellis County and Hays' ongoing work to create a unique and culturally rich experience for area residents and travelers alike".


The Ellis County Historical Museum board members and local dignitaries will be on hand for this ceremony to accept the certificates and receive a framed version of the official German Capital of Kansas logo. Museum staff members will also unveil a new exhibit entitled "Answering the Call: A tribute to Ellis County and Kansas Veterans from W.W. I to Operation Enduring Freedom." The event begins at 1 p.m. at the museum located at 100 West 7th Street in downtown Hays.

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Photo below: Staff and Board members with the Ellis County Historical Society are shown accepting the German Capital of Kansas certificates signed during the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest.  







DATE: February 18, 2003                                                                                        


Hays, Kansas - Organizers of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest have announced that a ceremony will be held on Saturday, September 20, 2003, to proclaim Ellis County and Hays as "The German Capital of Kansas". The ceremony will include various local politicians and members of the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association as well as several VIP guests that plan to attend the 2nd annual Oktoberfest. An official proclamation and ceremonial signing of the 2003 Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest certificate will be held prior to the traditional tapping of the keg.


Because Hays and the other communities in Ellis County are well known for their German Heritage, the Midwest Deutsche Oktoberfest Association felt that the distinction of being "The German Capital of Kansas" would be a wonderful honor to help kickoff the Oktoberfest celebration. Many of the people of Ellis County are descendants of German immigrants who came from the Volga River region of Russia.  These settlers were people who migrated from Germany to Russia following the end of the Seven Years War in 1763.


In October and November of 1875, many of these immigrants left their villages along the Volga  River and traveled to Saratov, Russia to begin their journey to America. The first Volga Germans arrived in Hays the middle of February 1876 and traveled south to settle land along the Big Timber Creek. Liebenthal was the first community to be founded on February 22, 1876. The other communities of Catherine, Herzog, Pfeifer, Munjor, and Schoenchen were settled during the spring and summer of 1876.   Bukovina Germans immigrated from what was then part of the Austrian Hungarian Empire and began to settle in Ellis beginning in 1886


Of course, a traditional Oktoberfest would not be complete without the food booths and good German cooking. Local clubs and organizations will have German brats, funnel cakes, sausage, bierocks, homemade jellies and jams, kuchen, spitzbuben, sauerkraut, green bean and noodle soup, cinnamon rolls, smoked meats, and dumplings.


The Oktoberfest celebration will begin at 10 a.m. on September 20th and continue through Sunday, September 21st  with the final polka band jam session from 4-6 p.m. 


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