Bayern Verein Newark
Founded in January 1931

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Club History

In the fall of 1930 a small group of Bavarian immigrants gathered to form a new club and foster Bavarian traditions in their new homeland. This dream soon became a reality at the restaurant Steirer Seppl on 14th Street in Newark, New Jersey, with the creation of Bayern Verein Newark (BVN) and the installation of Ludwig Leitzenberger as BVN's first president.

Schuhplattler Group Forms, 1931

Interest in BVN quickly grew throughout northern New Jersey. This interest in turn led to forming a Schuhplattler group on August 28, 1931, under the direction of Vorplattlers Karl Kaiser and Karl Poschner. However, it was under the direction of George Moosbauer in 1933 that the dance group came into full swing. For it was George who introduced the Verein to many of the old dances that have been danced in Bavaria some for several hundred years such as the "Bandltanz," which is still taught to our dancers today.

On February 26, 1932, a "Zitherabteilung" was formed and brought more enjoyment to our members as well as to the community. Soon after the establishment of BVN, Liberty Hall became the first home of our growing club. It was during this time that a friendship developed with GTEV Weiß-Blau New York which soon became our Patenverein. On June 27, 1932, BVN held its first Bayern Tag at Montgomery Park. This day was especially noteworthy since the Bavarian government presented BVN with a Fahnenband to commemorate the formation of our Verein.

As the following year drew to a close, Liberty Hall became too small for BVN as its festivals became well known and eagerly anticipated in northern New Jersey. The group moved to Labor Lyceum on April 11, 1934, under George Feicht as president. That same year, Ali Richter was elected president, and during the years that followed, the club grew and prospered. Around this time, BVN formed lasting friendships with Bavarian clubs from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. These friendships still exist today.

Fahnenweihe, 1949

During the difficult years following World War II, BVN was instrumental in providing vital assistance to Munich and the people of Bavaria. Not only did our members send packages of food and other necessities to the Bavarian people, but they sent money to the Bavarian government to be used in restoring the churches that were destroyed during the war. As a gesture of thanks, the Bavarian government donated a splendid work of Bavarian art which became the BVN flag.

This beautifully stitched flag bears an oak tree with the Bavarian crest and the crests of the eight states of Bavaria on one side; the other side is a lovely depiction of the Blessed Mother. Especially proud of our new flag and its origin, our members held a rousing Fahnenweihe on October 9, 1949, in Newark. A particularly memorable part of the weekend was a police-escorted parade down the main street of Newark to celebrate not only the Fahnenweihe but the end of the war.

In 1950 in recognition of many years of dedicated service to Bayern Verein, Ali Richter was named Ehrenpräsident and George Moosbauer was named Ehrenvorplattler. Also receiving honorary titles in the past were Gustl Landeck, Ehrenfinanz-Secretär, and Hermann Ulrich, Ehrenschatzmeister and Ehrenmitglied.

Trip to Germany, 1953

In 1953 BVN took its first trip to Germany. The members were welcomed into Munich by representatives of the Bavarian government and of the American consulate. The highlight of the trip was attending the Oktoberfest with our own float, an American/Bayern Festwagen.

In 1961 Emil Ehmann was elected president. This was also the year that BVN joined the Vereinigten Bayern von Groß New York und Umgebung. In 1962 BVN relocated its activities to Montgomery Hall, and the next year Siegfried Brunnacker became president.

The year 1964 was quite memorable as BVN established a close and lasting friendship with Edelweiß-Passaic of New Jersey as we became its Patenverein. That year, to everyone's delight, BVN was asked to dance in Atlantic City at the Democratic National Convention at which Lyndon Johnson was nominated.

Gauverband Nordamerika Charter Member

The 1960s continued to be a busy decade for BVN as it joined the newly established Gauverband Nordamerika on July 2, 1966, as a charter member. Also in 1966, memories were made when D'Roaga Buam from Ismaning, Germany, visited Bayern Verein.

In 1967 BVN held its first Oktoberfest at Farcher's Grove in Union, New Jersey. Two years later, Farcher's Grove became our official clubhouse and remained so for the next 31 years when it finally closed its doors for the last time in early 2000. The year 1967 continued to be an important year as we, along with the other member Vereine of the United Bavarians of Greater New York, held the first Gaufest at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, and a new tradition was established for Schuhplattler and Gebirgstrachten clubs in the United States and Canada. To the membership's delight, BVN was able to celebrate a second place finish in Preisplatteln.

In 1968 Willi Wild became president. That year, BVN and Edelweiß-Passaic together visited D'Roaga Buam in Ismaning, Germany. Joe Klingseisen was elected president in 1969. Joe was transferred to a new job in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that March, and the first vice president, Paul Ulrich, took over leadership of BVN, serving as president until 1982.

Wanderpreis, 1969

During the period of time after the founding of the Gauverband Nordamerika, BVN Ehrenpräsident Ali Richter was instrumental in obtaining the Wanderpreis for the Gauverband. The Bavarian government donated this hand-carved trophy for presentation to the winner of the Preisplattler competition at the Gaufest to hold for a 2 year period until the next winner was selected. In turn, Bavarian Minister-präsident Dr. Alfons Goppel was named an honorary member of BVN. At the Gaufest in Denver in 1969, BVN won the coveted first prize.

Ever mindful of a prosperous club future, we established a Kindergruppe in the late 1960s with marvelous results. Most of these "children" are still active in club affairs today and are helping to swell the ranks of our present Kindergruppe.

The seventies continued to be years of growth and success as the club grew comfortable in its new clubhouse. Despite increasingly tough competition, the Verein's preisplatteln team continued to do well as it brought home the second prize in 1971 from Detroit, Michigan; fourth place in 1973 from Washington, D.C.; and third prize in 1975 from Montreal, Canada.

In 1975 BVN began a new yearly tradition when our dancers were asked to perform at the first German Heritage Day at the Garden States Arts Center. As the seventies drew to an end, BVN continued to be successful in Preisplatteln, earning second place in 1977 at the Gaufest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and third place in 1979 in Los Angeles, California.

50. Stiftungsfest, 1980

The eighties began with one of the most memorable events of our club history, our 50. Stiftungsfest. Held at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, our many Trachtler friends from neighboring states came to celebrate our anniversary. Highlights of the evening included Ali Richter becoming our first fifty-year member. (Several years earlier, Ali had been presented with the Bayerische Verdienstorden for his years of service to the German-American community and his activities to help post-World War II Germany.) In addition, our adult group danced the beautiful Kronentanz while our Kindergruppe delighted the audience with the Bell Dance. About five hundred Trachtler, Trachtlerinnen, and guests attended the one-day celebration.

In 1981 at the Gaufest in neighboring New York City, BVN received the 1st prize gold medal in Preisplatteln. The next year, Al Nemeth was elected president as Paul Ulrich became 1st Vorplattler taking over from Walter Kraft who served as I . Vorplattler since 1960. During this year BVN helped its Patenkind Edelweiß-Passaic celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary. The following year, in 1983, BVN brought home second prize in Preisplatteln from Cleveland, Ohio. Peter Matthies was elected president in 1984 and continued to serve in that capacity until 1991.

As the decade continued, BVN remained successful in Preisplatteln as its team came in second place in 1985 in Denver, Colorado, as well as in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1987. At about this time some BVN members developed a keen interest in the Bavarian card game of Schafkopf. In 1989 BVN and Edelweiß-Passaic co-hosted the twelfth Gaufest, and this time BVN earned first place in Preisplattlen. As part of the Gaufest, the new format was introduced which included a welcome dance, Heimatabend, and a "theme" farewell dance. A Schafkopf Tournier was also introduced which was a huge success. Over 1860 people attended the banquet, and more than 2000 were at the picnic. Receiving honorary titles during this period were Gustl Landeck, Ehrenfinanz-Sekretär, and Hermann Ulrich, Ehrenschatzmeister and Ehrenmitglied.

In 1991 Paul Ulrich was again elected president and Ralph Ehmann became our new Vorplattler; both remain in those positions through the present. BVN continued to be successful in Preisplatteln through the 90's, coming in second place in 1991 in Vancouver, BC; fifth place in 1993 in Buffalo, NY; first place in both 1995 in Milwaukee, Wl and 1997 in Newark, DE and fourth place in St. Paul, MN.

Move to Deutscher Club Clark

The 90's also brought significant change to our club in that we were forced to find a new clubhouse or "Vereinslokal" as Farchers Grove was sold in 1999 and became a victim of land development. Our final Stiftungsfest on 27 February 1999 marked our final affair at Farchers as well as the final affair to be held there as it closed its doors a few weeks later. We were very fortunate to be able to relocate our "Vereinslokal" to the Deutscher Club in Clark (DCC), NJ; we were welcomed without reservation and were able to hold meetings, our General Meeting and our 2 Fests during the year there. We also were able to have our Plattlerprobe (dance rehearsals) as well as store our props at the Union VFW; both of these venues allowed us to continue on essentially without losing a heart beat after the closing of Farchers.

The year 2000 brought additional change as we settled into our new locations and got back into our new routine. We attended the Gaufest hosted by D'Gemütlichen Enzianer in 2001 at the Nevele in New York and placed second in the Preisplattler.

Mid-Atlantic Kinderfest

2003 turned out to be our busiest year ever. First we attended the Gaufest hosted over the Memorial Day weekend by the United German Hungarians in Philadelphia, PA where we placed first in the Preisplattler. The following weekend we hosted the annual Mid-Atlantic Kinderfest during the day and our own 73. Stiftungsfest that evening at DCC. The Kinderfest brought children of all ages from the mid- Atlantic region to participate in dancing and other organized activities designed to kindle friendships between clubs for the future; a great time was had by all despite a little rain which did not dampen the occasion or hurt the attendance. Our Stiftungsfest which moved from an indoor event in March at Farchers to an outdoor event in June at DCC was a big success due in part to the added attendance and participation by visiting clubs to the Kinderfest earlier in the day.

Trip to Germany, 2003

As a result of placing first in the Preisplattler at the Gaufest in Philadelphia, PA, we received an invitation from the Donaugau Trachtenverband along with the United German Hungarians who finished in second place at their Gaufest to compete along with the 1st and 2nd place finishers in other Gau Preisplattler competitions at a championship competition "um den Bayerischen Löwen" to be held on 4 October in Ingolstadt, GE. There was very little time to make arrangements but we could not pass up the opportunity to represent the Gauverband Nordamerika as well as the BVN at this probably once in a lifetime chance to compete against our peers in Germany. We crammed a great deal into the short week we were there but managed to compete as well as meet a lot of interesting people and see a great deal as well as foster additional friendships with UGH during that period. We placed fourth overall in the Preisplatteln and UGH placed fifth in a very stiff competition. What we will always remember, however, was the long deafening applause received after competing in a hushed, silent room of native Bavarian dancers who were crowded around the dance floor to see how the Americans would do; it was overwhelming. It was obvious that whatever they may have thought before, our performance as well as UGH's performance removed all doubt that the Americans were carrying on their traditions well and were able to compete with the best of the best in Germany. Of course we celebrated with UGH the following day at the Oktoberfest in Munich and that evening with a farewell party and dinner at our hotel in Greding, GE.

The success of our dance group in no small way can be attributed to our previous Vorplattlers: Walter Kraft (1960 to 1982), Paul Ulrich (1982 to 1991) and Ralph Ehmann (1991 to the present). These three men were instrumental in BVN's success as a preisplatteln team, supported of course by our dedicated dancers and our membership.

Typical Events

Since the days when our club was but a small group of Bavarians who had come to the United States in search of their dreams, many traditions have evolved. Our yearly meeting takes place either on the last Sunday in January or the first Sunday in February, and new members to the executive board are elected. At this meeting, honorary pins are also awarded. Following the meeting, the members enjoy dinner and music and dancing. The day is always filled with fun and laughter as members reminisce while they browse through the pictures in the club's albums and look hopefully toward the future as new ideas are discussed.

Annual Stiftungsfest

Up until 1999, the annual Stiftungsfest was held on the second Saturday in March, and always proved to be a most memorable evening as our fellow Trachtler and Trachtlerinnen from other Vereine joined us in a night of dancing, laughter, and celebration. This tradition still carries on on the first Saturday in June at DCC. March also brings weekend performances at German restaurants light the Hofbrauhaus in Atlantic Highlands. In June following our own affair BVN also performs at the Deutscher Club Clark's Waldfest.

During the summer we take a break from our Monday night dance practices, but club members remain active with executive board meetings and monthly meetings usually on the last Monday of the month. A tailgate party with Edelweiss Passaic at the German Heritage Festival in September has replaced our annual picnic in July and has proven to be one of our most popular club events. During the summer months our members spend time with our fellow Trachtler and Trachtlerinnen at their various summer events.

Annual Oktoberfest

During the summer we take a break from our Monday night dance practices, but club members remain active with executive board meetings and monthly meetings usually on the last Monday of the month. A tailgate party with Edelweiss Passaic at the German Heritage Festival in September has replaced our annual picnic in July and has proven to be one of our most popular club events. During the summer months our members spend time with our fellow Trachtler and Trachtlerinnen at their various summer events.

Beginning in October, our dancers are at their busiest attending the Oktoberfests of our fellow Trachtenvereine, as well as spending many Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons performing in local German restaurants again such as the Hofbrauhaus. Throughout the year, but especially in October, BVN's dancers can be found doing charitable dance jobs at local nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. October draws to an end with our annual Halloween party which always proves to be lots of fun for both our children and adult members.

Holiday Time and Families

As November and December come upon us, the dancers can finally breathe again, but of course they still find time to dance at the Stiftungsfests and Bauernballs of our fellow Trachtenvereine. As the year comes to an end, BVN members join together on the third Sunday of December at the Union VFW to await the arrival of Santa Claus. Our Christmas party is a fun-filled day with hot apple cider, singing, dancing, music, and even a Glückshafen. It is definitely a day we all look forward to.

Our Future

Through all these activities and many more too numerous to mention, BVN works hard on its avowed task to foster and nurture Bavarian traditions within the framework of its new homeland. We look eagerly toward the future as our children's group grows again and our former "children" begin to take executive board positions in our club. What we are today and what we will become are a direct result of the hard work, dedication and sacrifice of the officers and members who have come before us. There is no doubt that with that same hard work, dedication and sacrifice we will not only survive but flourish in the future!

Sitt und Tracht der Alten woll'n wir erhalten
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