Memories of Snowfest and Our House Guests

Saginaw Subterranean Strings, our fun, performing music club, presented Snowfest concerts in Fischer Hall, Frankenmuth, MI, for 20 years (beginning in 1993). The club, which began in 1992, dissolved in 2013.

Fischer Hall was a lovely place to hold the event and we drew standing-room-only crowds all weekend and made sizeable donations to the Frankenmuth Museum, adjacent to the hall. Our club would play/jam for an hour and then we’d take an hour break and exceptional, invited acts would take the stage for 20-minute performances. We’d end the day with a great “everyone included” finale.

The city of Frankenmuth hosted the international ice and snow sculpting events up and down Main Street while we performed in the Hall, near all the sculptures. Many years it was bitter cold and we passers-by could come inside for free music, a place to sit, and warmth. Audiences came first because they were cold or tired of walking, but they loved the music! Folks started arriving earlier and earlier to get the front-row seats in the lovely, historic opera house and they’d stay put all day.

We would present the concerts for two days (a total of 12 hours of entertainment). John ran the sound and I was director and emcee. We also fed our club and the invited performers. (A potluck supplied by our club helped.) It was exhausting but we loved it!

After the Saturday concerts, John and I would invite the “featured acts” to stay at home. We have only three bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths so it was a “tight fit.” After dinner at a local restaurant, the guest performers who lived too far from Frankenmuth to drive back and forth would follow us back to our place.

We extended the invitation, and everyone accepted. We never ran out of food, bedding, bathrooms, hot water, wine, nor wonderful music which was played by others long after we’d fallen asleep

These wonderful house-crowds included Les Raber, Bob Hubbach, Judy Raber, Chuck & Nan Boody, Martha & John Kuch, Cindy & Paul Goelz, and Mary Lou & Hugh Battley. (Not all every year but a full house annually.)

The Kuchs and Cindy & Paul were the first to stay with us.

One year at the last minute, Les Raber, Michigan’s premier fiddler, invited himself. It was an honor to have him stay but we had no rooms left so we made up a bed in the basement (which was sorta finished with a large, comfortable sectional.) Les only stayed down there one year. We worked out other arrangements for him to stay in the guest room the next year.

When Les came, it gave the whole event a big “draw.” Everyone wanted to be where Les was.

The exceptional dulcimer player, Bob Hubbach, asked if he could stay at our place and by then we’d moved Les out of the basement space so that became Bob Hubbach’s area. He returned year after year even after we’d lost Les.

The Battleys stayed in our hot tub room on an elevated air mattress.

Chuck and Nan joined us, driving from Minnesota one or two years. They brought their own air mattress and put it on the balcony.

Just before Les died, Judy Raber, his daughter, started playing fiddle. Les passed away in 1999.

Judy took over Les’s role as a great fiddler and was the last addition to our house party. We bought a twin size air mattress for her but the only place where she’d have any privacy was the dining room (under the table). The last year she slept on a couch instead of the air mattress on the floor.

We finally had to admit that the two-day event had become too much for everyone involved. Our music club officially hosted the weekend, but the members were getting older and all the driving in bad weather a few years frightened us. In 2009, we cut the concert down to ONE day instead of two and the Morningstars hosted a dance on Sunday.

Even with the one-day format, it was difficult for our older members and really hard on us. We would drive back and forth FROM FLORIDA which was crazy for a donated weekend. On our return to Florida in February 2009, we ran into a horrid ice storm and it frightened us. We turned the 2010 Saturday concert over to Dee Dee Tibbits (a lovely, talented entertainer and friend.) She has continued the Snowfest concerts in the perfect venue spot Fischer Hall.

Those concerts and the wonderful hosting opportunities were all so much fun, but now impossible because of John’s health issues.

The other day we had three of our Florida lady friends stop in and I wished we’d planned to have them stay over. I miss having a crowd of folks enjoy our surroundings.

Now we get more visitors in Florida. (The lovely weather in mid-winter probably has something to do with that.) It would now be too much for John to tackle a huge houseful of guests like before because he always loves to present a glorious breakfast for all. He’d make banana and raspberry filled pancakes, an egg/sausage casserole, and lots more. And the night before, we’d have a John’s wine sampling.

But the Snowfest Concerts gave us lovely memories and bonded us to some great friends.

You can see a flyer for the 2006 concert below.



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