German Christmas Market returns to Oconomowoc
Authentic German cuisine, entertainment and goods this weekend

By Amber Gramza - Freeman Staff

Nov. 29, 2013

Pommersche Tanzdeel Freistadt group member Kurt Reiss jumps over member Jason Gehrke during a recent performance. The group will be at the Oconomowoc German Christmas Market this weekend. The ladies in the back from left to right are Amy Noble, Liesel Reiss, Rachel Baka and Julie Mae Engelmann.  
Submitted photo

OCONOMOWOC - After your belly is full from a Thanksgiving meal, you and your family will need to get into crunch mode.

With fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas people will find shopping, entertainment and more delicious, but this time German, food this weekend at the second annual German Christmas Market of Oconomowoc.

“Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect date for an event like ours,” GCM President Craig Pruscha said. “People are home for the holidays and often confined in a house with extended family. Our event offers visitors a welcome reprieve from the restlessness and the chance to celebrate community. There is something for everyone here and there is no entry fee.

“Come and see why we are being called the best Christmas Market in Wisconsin. Prost!”

Pommersche Tanzdeel Freistadt members Rachel Baka, left, and Johann Hinck, right, perform “Spazier Polka.”  
Submitted photo

The market  runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Village Green. New this year will be a fire pit, a holiday party tent and a live big screen video feed to the Christmas Market in Dietzenbach, Germany. The market is supposed to replicate a Christkindl market, celebrated for centuries in Europe.

The GCM will host German-styled wooden huts and tents, filled with 45 vendors including - new this year - owner of Glassware to Gourds Patti Stiles. Stiles works out of her house in Merton and specializes in growing, harvesting and crafting her own gourds, which she turns into baskets, bowls and birdhouses. She also uses glassware for utensils or small salad bowls.

“I am so excited for the market, I can’t wait,” Stiles said.

She has ornaments and jewelry that range from $5 to $10 with some of her largest basket gourds, which can take up to 40 hours of work, at about $90.


Music and dancing

New this year is a circus-style tent that will house the main music stage with live entertainment, including German and polka-style bands as well as the beer and wine vendors.

George Radtke is club president and music director of the Pommersche Tanzdeel Freistadt, a group of musicians and dancers organized in 1977 to preserve the folk culture by performing songs and dances from the Pomeranian regions.

Pommersche Tanzdeel Freistadt is seen performing at Oshkosh Oktoberfest. The group will be performing at the Oconomowoc German Christmas Market this weekend
Submitted photo 

“We will be at the German Christmas Market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday,” Radtke said. “We have a singing group we’ve formed and we have started our own little band with vocals and instruments because we always play live music for the dancers.”

The group will play traditional folk music, Oktoberfest-style music and Christmas carols.

“We do polkas and waltzes,” he said about the mixture of Scandinavian and German influences. “We like to show the depth of beyond some of the typical stereotypes that people perceive to be German.”


Don't forget the eats - and Mr. Claus

A German Christmas Market wouldn’t be official without German cuisine, being provided by Weissgerber Restaurants and - also new this year - Schwefel’s Restaurant.

A piece of Black Forest cake that will be prepared and served by staff from Schwefel’s Restaurant during the Oconomowoc German Christmas Market this weekend.  
Submitted photo

Dan Schwefel, who co-owns the business with his wife, Lori, said that they will be serving spanferkel roast pig sandwiches, liver dumpling soup and black forest and German chocolate cakes.

“It was good to see the history of the others from last year and we are very much looking forward to now being down here,” Schwefel said.

The Old German Beer Hall and Hofbrau of Milwaukee will be back with the exclusive beer and gluhwein, or hot mulled wine.

There will be a photo opportunity with Santa, who will be there from noon to 5 p.m. each day with people donating what they think is fair, with donations going to GCM. There will also be a hot drinks tent with proceeds going to various local nonprofit organizations.

For more information or to watch videos about the market, go to



Brookfield German Holiday Market

BROOKFIELD  There will be a Brookfield German Holiday Market on Dec. 7 with a wide range of music and activities throughout the day from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

In the Civic Plaza on the main stage, there will be performances by the Milwaukee Liederkranz, a German cultural choir, the Austrian Express Band and the Brookfield City Chorus. The tree lighting will be from 4:50 p.m. to 5:05 p.m. featuring the Donauschwaben Singers.

Indoor activities featured inside City Hall, 2000 N. Calhoun Road, will be writing letters to Santa, story time, crafts for kids and visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Wheaton Franciscan Elmbrook Memorial campus and BMO Harris Bank are the title sponsors for the event.

-Amber Gramza, Freeman Staff