Celebrating German culture and traditions is what the Lancaster Liederkranz is all about. The family-oriented organization promotes German culture and customs through music, song, dance, art, language, and international exchange.

The word “Liederkranz” translates to “wreath of songs.” Established July 4, 1880, in downtown Lancaster, the organization moved to 722 S. Chiques Road, Manheim, in 1993.

The Lancaster Liederkranz moved to its current location at 722 S. Chiques Road, Manheim, in 1993. The club was established on July 4, 1880, in downtown Lancaster. (Rochelle Shenk)

Lebanon-area resident Richard Wertz and his wife Carla Pielmeier joined the Lancaster Liederkranz in 2012. Wertz, whose ancestors are from the German state of Bavaria, said the couple wanted to join an organization to learn more about German culture.

“The Liederkranz is easily accessible, since it’s located off Route 283. It’s not too far of a drive for us,” Wertz said.

Membership chair Bob Kilp said about 90 members are from Lebanon County as well as nearly 40 members from the Hershey and Hummelstown areas.

Detail of a carving at the entrance to the Lancaster Liederkranz. (Rochelle Shenk)

“Our club is thriving. What makes us special is that is mostly run by volunteers; people know one another and they feel connected to the club. We’re also very family-friendly,” explained Glenn Yanos, Lancaster Liederkranz vice president and a Lebanon-area resident. He was also a trustee for five years and previously served as Liederkranz president.

Wertz and Pielmeier are part of that volunteer effort. “We volunteer as greeters at the door during our meeting night, which is the first Thursday of the month. It’s a great way to meet the new members. We’ve made a number of friends through volunteering at the Liederkranz,” he said, adding that a close friend is a musician that plays in a band that performs at the Liederkranz.

The couple are members of the Lancaster Liederkranz’s Alleweil Jung Volkstänzer, a group that focuses on the traditional dances that would have been done in German villages. Pielmeier serves as president of the dance group, which has about 24 dancers including some from Chester County.

Another dance group, the Alpenrose Schuhplattler Verein, has both an adult dance group and a children’s dance group, or Kindergruppe. Both schuhplattler groups perform folk dances from Germany and Austria. The Alpenrose Schuhplattler Verien’s website explains that schulhplattling translates to shoe-slapping; this form of dance dates back to the 11th and 14th centuries.

The Hobby Chor, an all-male chorus, was founded in 1978 and continues the German tradition of men singing traditional fun songs. The Lancaster Liederkranz Chorus features men and women singing German folk songs and other choral arrangements. Yanos said the chorus has about 60 members. “It’s really grown. I’ve been to some other German organizations that have less than 10 singers in their chorus,” he said

Lancaster Liederkranz grounds include not only a spacious clubhouse with a rear deck overlooking the Chiques Creek, but also a large outdoor pavilion that’s located along the creek. The pavilion and its adjoining green space is the site of annual Liederkranz fests.

The rear of the pavilion is near the Chiques Creek. (Rochelle Shenk)

Yanos said like many other organizations, the Liederkranz shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic; the various fests and activities were put on hold, the Liederkranz dining room and bar were shuttered. When COVID-19 restrictions eased, take-out meals were available. He explained that a menu would be posted, people would pre-order and then drive through the parking lot to pick up meals. But now the club has fully re-opened.

The Liederkranz fests include a German Sommerfest, which is slated for June 7-8; Parrot Fest, which is billed as “Margaritaville at the Liederkranz” and will be held July 20; and Oktoberfest, a three-day celebration of German food, beer, music, song and dance, which is scheduled for Sept. 20-22. The organization also hosts a traditional German Christmas market. This year’s Christkindlemarkt will be held Dec. 15 with activities in the pavilion and adjacent large tent as well as the clubhouse.

For further information about the Lancaster Liederkranz and its activities and events, visit lancasterliederkranz.com.

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Rochelle A. Shenk is a writer with over two decades experience. Her work appears in regional business publications and lifestyle magazines as well as area newspapers. She writes about business and municipal sectors as well as arts and entertainment, human interest features, and travel and tourism. Rochelle...