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Recalling the good times

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Ben Schrupp, left, and his son Finnley of New Ulm paddle a kayak at the Gemütlichkeit in Goosetown celebration in the Minnesota River at Riverside Park Saturday.

NEW ULM — Goosetown, where family-owned flocks of geese once roamed, was the scene of a party geared to people of all ages at Riverside Park Saturday.

The scent of German potato salad and brats and the sound of polka music and children laughing and playing cut the air.

The Friends of Goosetown started the celebration a few years ago as a replacement for Riverblast and as a way to celebrate one of New Ulm’s most unique neighborhoods.

Old friends and neighbors reminisced and rekindled friendships.

Goosetown native Richard Schwartz of St. Joseph, Mi. sang and played a 12-string guitar for two hours.

He performed John Denver’s “Back Home Again” like he meant it.

Richard and Harry Schwartz said their favorite memories of Goosetown were the summer park programs at Riverside Park.

During high school, Harry said he participated in the German Dance Club, traveling to the Minnesota State Fair, performing with The Concord Singers.

“Some guys made fun of my German lederhosen, until they saw who I got to dance with,” Harry said.

Harry Schwartz talked about leaving home and coming back again.

“After high school, I couldn’t wait to get out of town. I couldn’t wait to get older. I studied accounting at Minneapolis Vocational School (now Hennepin Technical College) and worked in the Twin Cities,” Harry said. “I moved back to New Ulm about 20 years ago, left the accounting field since I didn’t have a four-year degree. I learned I could make a better living in manufacturing.”

Jack Stone, owner of Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply of Grand Marais brought eight kayaks and a kayak guide to the celebration. He offered them free to use to anyone wishing to paddle on the Minnesota River.

“I see this as an opportunity to come home. I ran into a lot of people I knew here. It’s always fun to do something like this,” Stone said. “I remember walking the Minnesota and Cottonwood River banks and hills with my friends as a kid.”

The Riverside History & Nature Learning Center in the old Franklin School building was busy Saturday. Children and adults visited hands-on displays, information and photos of the clamming industry and river fishing. The learning center is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through friday, noon to 3 p.m. Sunday or by appointment.

Outside the building, children released butterflies into the park. A raffle for a chance to win a variety of German food including sauerkraut and Domeier’s German Store gift certificates plus morel mushrooms were available to those willing to complete a brief survey.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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