In addition to festival performances, Almrausch enjoys traveling to Stiftungsfests and other festivals and celebrations hosted by other Gau member Vereine.
In 1969, after seeing a performance of Schuhplattler dances at a festival, a handful of Germania members formed a group whose purpose is to promote and preserve Bavarian folk dance and tradition. In January 1970 the first official meeting of “Germania Almrausch” was held under the leadership of Charter President Robert E. Rose Jr., who held that position until June 1974, and Vorplattler Charles Angevine. In fact, the founding members were Robert, Charles, Len Plumb, Ed Berger, Babe Killmer, Rose Huettinger, Dorrie Rose, and Inge Egan. Charles, who had danced with Edelweiss-Passaic of New Jersey since he was a teenager, was the only member with experience. With the blessing and help of Edelweiss-Passaic, Charles brought sheet music, dances and information about Tracht (traditional clothing) to the Almrausch and continued to teach the group until he transferred out of the area in 1971. At that time George Hupe was appointed Vorplattler and held this position until January of 1977. He held this position again at various times over the years, as well as other positions such as 2. Vorplattler, President and Business Manager. The members incorporated with New York State as Germania Almrausch Schuhplattler Verein on March 10, 1976.
The group’s first musician was Fritz Doneit who mastered his accordion with much encouragement from the group. Fritz played for many years for the adults and the children. When he retired his accordion he played piano for the children’s group into the early eighties. Fritz became a member of Germania in 1938, Honorary Member in 1999 and sadly passed away at age 98 in 2001. Although the group has had other musicians over the years, the Almrausch adult group currently relies on recorded music.
With pride Almrausch had its first performance in its own backyard at the Germania Picnic on July 12, 1970. Its first public appearance was on August 2, 1970 at the Clearwater Sloop Festival on the Hudson’s riverfront in Poughkeepsie. In addition to the ‘plattlers’, Almrausch performed fest dances such as the Muhlradl and the Steire Figuren Tanz. By 1971 membership had grown to 20+ members and on April 3, 1971 the group held its first Stiftungsfest (celebration of our founding year) at Germania Hall located at 197 Church Street in the City of Poughkeepsie. Our Ehrentanz (honorary dance) was the Kronen Tanz and through the years following it became the club’s anniversary Ehrentanz. The club has been honored to dance throughout the East Coast. Favorite past times include New Hackensack Bier Fest, Great Escape, Taj Mahal and Black Forest Mill Restaurant. Almrausch currently performs annually at Hunter Mountain, Bellayre Ski Lodge, Town of Yulan and West Point Officer’s Club, as well as various other bier fests and Oktoberfests. The group has also donated its time entertaining at hospitals, nursing homes and schools. Of course the group also entertains at events held by Germania of Poughkeepsie, its mother club.
The members who had children, such as families Hupe, Fueglein, Plumb and Rose, encouraged the children to learn the Schuhplattler dances. By 1971 the Germania Almrausch Kindergruppe (children’s group) had taken its formation under the direction of Gloria Hupe. Gloria first taught the Kindergruppe the Bandl (maypole) dance. By August of 1971 the Kindergruppe consisted of approximately eight couples and Hugo Fueglein helped teach. The first dirndls worn by the children were made by a seamstress in Beacon, NY. After that life member Dorry Rose-Mathewson made the girl’s dirndls until she moved out of the area in 1986. Members Gábor and Christine Pattantyus, who took leadership of the Kindergruppe from 1979 until 1993, were proud to have the children present the ‘Miner’s Dance’ at the Almrausch 19th Anniversary, a dance that was taught to them by Adam Levine. Gabor also brought the Ambosstanz to the Kindergruppe and taught them the Steire Figurin Tanz. Sadly, membership dwindled and Kindergruppe folded. It was revived in year 2000 under the direction of David and Faith Yearack with their niece and nephew dancing and families Rose, Doedée, Zehner and Zuck, and the Kindergruppe continues under their leadership today and is growing. In 2005, Kindergruppe girls adopted a green skirt with hearts and other colors, and a mauve colored apron and shawl set made by Anny Mueller of Alpenland Montreal. They first wore it at our 35th Stiftungsfest. Later Germania singer Helga Nowak-Razey made a new mauve shawl and apron set made of a more forgiving material. In 2009, Kindergruppe girls plan to adopt a navy blue dirndl with a checkered multi-colored apron.
Edelweiss-Passaic accepted to be the group’s Patenverein and sponsor their application to the Gauverband Nordamerika, Bayerisher Schuhplattler und Trachten Vereine. This organization is composed of Bavarian folk dance groups and Trachten vereine throughout the US and Canada. In 1974 Germania Almrausch S.V. was voted into the Gauverband. Since that time, Almrausch has had the honor of sponsoring the Original Auerhahn S.V. of Miami (no longer in existence) and the Auerhahn S.V. of Oley, PA (which celebrated its 25th in April 2005).
The Gauverband was formed as a federation to form bonds and improve communication between Vereine throughout North America. Because dance style varies from one region to another, there was a need to form guideline for Preisplatteln. Preisplatteln (competition) takes place every other odd year and is hosted by a member Verein. This gathering is called “Gaufest”. Almrausch attended its first Gaufest in Montreal, 1975 and is proud to have been represented at most Gaufests since then. Almrausch participated in competition in Montreal, 1975; New York City, 1981; New Jersey, 1989 and Buffalo, 1993.
The first dirndl worn by the women was made locally by seamstress Krista Kohlmaier. The dirndls worn over the years after that were made by Almrausch members Inge Egan, Dorry Rose-Mathewson and Margarethe Killmer. In 1974, Almrausch first appeared in Fest Tracht (formal clothing). The club’s Miesbacher Tracht consists of a deep red wine skirt with black velvet ribbon circling the bottom, a Meider and a white cotton blouse, apron and shawl set with lace inserts. Today the ladies wear a silk shawl and apron with the Tracht skirt and Meider. In 1981, the men received crosspiece for the hosenträger (suspenders). It is embroidered with the Verein’s name and was made by Trachten Pöllmann in Munich, Germany. The hunter green dirndl was made by Ernst Licht and was first worn by the group at the 12th Gaufest in 1989. Since that time the women a black-teal plaid skirt made by a seamstress in Albany and a blue dirndl made in Canada. The men purchased and started wearing Bauchgurt (belts) in 2005. Material scraps from our dirndls from three decades were sewn into a quilt by Kathleen Magiera of Coventry, RI (cousin of Almrausch member Karen Rose) and the quilt was raffled off at our 35th Stiftungsfest on May 14, 2005.
Rudolf Jaeger took drawings, made by the members, to Markt Hohenwart in West Germany where nuns hand embroidered the group’s table flag. It is made of silk and is bordered by 14K gold fringe. It arrived from Germany in 1974. The inscription on the table flag’s backside reads “Treu dem Guten Alten Brauch” (loyal to the good ol’ traditions). The group’s full size parade and display flag is an exact replica of the table flag. It was ordered from Reichardt Flag Shop in Poughkeepsie and made in Pennsylvania. It arrived at the club in 1984 and was shown to family and friends at the 14th Stiftungsfest. The weekend of April 19, 1991 Almrausch celebrated its 21st Anniversary and Fahnenweihe (to devote the flag solemnly to a purpose). April 20, 1991 was officially proclaimed “Fahnenweihe Day” by Robert E Bleakley then the City of Poughkeepsie Mayor, and was also recognized by the County Legislature, State Assembly and State Senate. The service was lead by Rev. Richard LaMorte, Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and was accompanied by Pastor Henry Wuertz of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church. Almrausch was honored to have the Germania Men & Ladies Singers sing the hymns for the service. Following the flag blessing, Almrausch and its guest Vereine paraded to the Poughkeepsie Main Mall and danced the traditional Massenplattler (dance as a large group) around the Bee Hive. The formal banquet was held at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center and the group took pride presenting its own version of the Marianna Plattler under the leadership of 1. Vorplattler Joseph Sultana to approximately 500 guests. This memorable weekend gave Almrausch open doors to new friendships and to strengthen old friendships.
Music, Dance and Gemuetlichkeit! Through the years the Almrausch has come to know and love a great many people within the Gauverband. It was through these lifelong friendships that the 12:01 Club was organized. Members of Germania Almrausch SV, Alpenveilchen, Auerhahn SV and United German Hungarian Schuhplattlers came up with the idea to co-host a Gaufest hospitality room and it was a tremendous success at the 12th Gaufest in 1989 in New Jersey! John Blank, Gary Phlag, Ronnie Row and Robb Rose will never forget the line that formed outside the door waiting to get in, or the bottles of Jägermeister that were consumed! Alpenrose Schuhplattlers later joined the 12:01 Club at Auerhahn’s Annual Picnic; a ceremonial event that was all in good fun. The name of the club comes from not being able to open the doors of your hospitality room to guests until after Midnight, which is when the Gaufest Banquet ends. Cartoonist Marty Qatani designed a special logo: a penguin dressed in Lederhosen pouring a shot of Jägermeister! The logo appeared on post-it stickers and letterhead in 1989 and on embroidered shirts in 1993. Musicians from the participating Vereine would provide a musical jamboree at each party. Unfortunately by the 15th Gaufest it was getting too hard to host the 12:01 Club Hospitality Room due to cost and hotel restrictions, so the 12:01 Club disbanded.
Almrausch, a daughter club of Germania of Poughkeepsie, is proud to call Germania home. Several Almrausch members serve on the Germania Board as well as on committees each year. In 1996 Almrausch donated and installed a swing set to Germania which was a welcome addition to the Germania recreation grounds. In 2006 Almrausch moved, enlarged, and improved the swing set and created a playground. In 2008 Almrausch fenced the playground with materials purchased from donations from its own treasury, members and Germania’s members. It takes pride in seeing Germania’s future, the children, playing at the playground. In addition to some monetary donations by the group and its individual members during the construction of the new clubhouse, a group of Almrausch members and friends were instrumental in building the vestibule that serves as the main entrance of the new clubhouse which opened in the summer of 2006. Almrausch members Robert Rose and Mike Reichert also served on the team that was instrumental in building the bar at the new clubhouse. The group hopes to help as much as it can with future improvements of the Germania clubhouse, pavilion and grounds.
We shall never forget the efforts of the Almrausch members that are no longer with us that built our foundation and helped us get where we are today. Almrausch continues to look for new members of all ages and hopes that many generations to come will continue to bring Bavarian dance into the community and uphold true traditions.