The German heritage of our beloved Cincinnati is not lost on anyone around the Tri-State. But not many ‘natians know about Oldenburg, Indiana: THE quintessence of Germany right here in the Midwest.
A small town about a 45-minute drive west of downtown, Oldenburg boasts a population of not even 700 residents, and that’s exactly how they like it. No fuss, no Wal-Mart, no Wi-Fi (at least not in the café), and definitely no Starbucks (at least not anymore).
You’ll be too busy admiring the hand-painted fire hydrants and German street names to notice there isn’t a single traffic light in town either.
Oldenburg is a quaint gem that successfully eludes many Queen City natives, especially during the annual summer Freudenfest (Festival of Fun), Winter Fest, or just fall in general. Basically, there’s never a bad time to visit.
THE ATTRACTIONS OF OLDENBURG
The Village of Spires, as it has been appropriately monikered, was founded by a group of settlers in 1837 who ventured from, you guessed it, Oldenburg, Germany. But to call it “old” would be a total disservice -- “historic” is more fitting as it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
A stroll down Haupt Strasse (Main Street) is truly a German feast for the eyes.
The beloved Sisters of St. Francis call the village home, as do Wagner’s Village Inn (fried chicken is liebe), the Holy Family Church, Kessing Haus Café, Carriage House Antiques, and Der Kleinstadt Laden (the Village Store).
From there you can follow the red brick road that is Perlen Strasse for libations at der Perlen Strasse Pub (the Pearl Street Pub), the Creche Shop (the Nativity Shop) where Ed Kirschner makes wooden nativity scenes by hand, or to see the Oldenburg Memorial in front of the town’s fire house.
By that point, the smell of bacon should be calling your name over to the Brau Haus (Brew House) for some authentic German cuisine. The dark wood paneling offers a comforting reminder that there’s no shortage of sausage or schnitzel to be had.
If you are wise enough to visit during Freudenfest, then you are definitely in for a treat. The traditional reunion began back in 1976 to celebrate the richness of the town’s German heritage with fun, family, and friends.
Think you can handle all of the fun? There’s a beer slide contest, a Lauf (5K walk/run) through the scenic countryside along Harvey’s Branch, a Stein holding contest, activities for the kinder, a delicious pie auction, tours of Michaela Farm (in operation since 1854!), Dachshund races (right??), wine tasting, flying chickens, and a bike ride.
And don’t worry, there’s plenty of beer, live music, German dancing, and traditional dress to take in as well. After all, it is a festival of German heritage.
So you’ve read about Oldenburg, you’re about to check out the gallery (obviously), now all that’s left is to go see it in person.
Ich liebe Oldenburg! (I love Oldenburg!)