Volunteers help carry load for successful Heritage Festival

Authored by Jim Langham on Sep 9, 2013

Debby Neuenschwander, executive director of Swiss Heritage Village, couldn’t begin to speculate the total number of years wrapped up in all of the volunteers involved with this year’s Swiss Heritage Village Festival success.
Neuenschwander estimated that over 200 volunteers served in various capacities in Friday’s annual Education Day and another 100 showed up early Saturday morning to assist in the Heritage Festival.
Neuenschwander noted that there were volunteers serving who had worked at the village for over 25 years. She expressed special appreciation for school students who had donated time and effort for the busy weekend.
Adams Central student Heidi Sinn comes to help with laundry with her cousins in the cheese house. However, she especially enjoys assisting around the grounds with entertaining children.
“It’s been fun; I used to come both Friday and Saturday. This year I was only able to be here on Saturday,” said Sinn, who has assisted repetitively with the event. “I really like to interact with the little kids. That’s why I always enjoyed helping so much on Fridays with the education day.”
Cora Sprunger, who has also worked part-time on staff this summer, said that she loves giving tours and telling visitors about the things that she knows about her heritage and the Berne area.
“Memorizing everything is hard, but it is what you have to do to keep informed about the 1800s,” observed Sprunger. “I had to learn about everything around here; I had to learn about what a normal day was in the lives of the people in those days.”
Sprunger, who is majoring in office administration at Ivy Tech, said that she is proud of the heritage of her parents, Rick and Nancy Sprunger, which gives her a part-Swiss, part-German background.
“I have come to appreciate the heritage of Berne; I have a much deeper understanding of what happened in order for our ancestors to get here, and the heritage that they have passed on,” noted Sprunger.
“I hope that the traditions of our ancestors will get passed down to the next generation, how apple butter is made, how to craft and sew and the everyday activities that were parts of the lives of our heritage families,” said Neuenschwander.
Volunteer Milly Fox said that weather couldn’t have been more beautiful for this year’s event.
“I love to come out here on a day like this and interact with people,” said Fox.
Fox was in charge of teaching about carding wool and preparing it to be used to make into cloth and stuff into comforters.
“I love showing the kids how to do this, what the settlers would go through to put clothes on their backs,” continued Fox.
“There’s an incredible amount of volunteers out here. It’s amazing how they all work together to make it happen,” commented volunteer Judy Poulson. “This is really an awesome festival. Kids get to learn and I get to learn about the past. The way our ancestors made things, I didn’t realize how much art is involved in these crafts.”
“Volunteers are so important, they are the lifeblood of any type of festival. I’m so appreciative,” said festival director Sara Stauffer. “There’s no way they (volunteers) can be replaced. Some of them have volunteered for 15 or 20 years. They are incredible, they are the ones that make it happen.
“I am humbled by the way our volunteers work so hard, and then come back again and say, ‘here we are; we want to help again,’” said Stauffer. “That’s how much people enjoy working together here.”

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