Dubois County, Ind.
Throughout Indiana’s Dubois County, several towns retain the flavor that came with the German immigrants who settled the area.
“Jasper and Huntington here in Dubois County were huge German Catholic settlements,” said Kevin Manley, executive director of the Dubois County Tourism Commission. “Today, about 80 percent of the people living here are German Americans. They’re very hard-working people, who take a lot of pride in keeping a clean community.”
Residents keep their German heritage alive through a number of annual festivals. The Strassenfest street festival draws visitors from around the country, as well as from Germany, to an event full of German sports and music, along with all sorts of German food and a beer garden.
Other annual events include Heimatfest in Ferdinand and St. Henry’s Heindrichsdorf festival, which celebrates German heritage each year in June.
One of the most popular German events is the Kristkindlmarkt, an outdoor holiday market set up every November.
“It celebrates a German Christmas and the heritage of Germany,” Manley said. “They have all kinds of events and handmade goods. They do it at the monastery there and put on a show to go along with it.”
At any time of year, groups can get a taste of authentic German cuisine at Schnitzvank, a restaurant in Jasper that features generations-old recipes and staff dressed in traditional German costume.
According to legend, Dublin, Ohio, was named by an Irish surveyor, even though most of the population there isn’t Irish. However, this small town on the outskirts of Columbus has embraced the ethnicity of its name and created an identity that is wrapped around all things Irish.
“We say that ‘Irish is an attitude’ because our roots aren’t authentically Irish,” said Mary Szymkowiak, communications and group tour specialist at the Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’ve embraced our Irish attitude. We have one of the largest Irish festivals in the nation. It attracts over 100,000 visitors every year, and it’s been one of ABA’s Top 100 events twice.”
The festival takes place in early August, but groups can dig into Dublin’s Irish flavor at any time of year. The town is surrounded by traditional rock walls, with pieces carved from limestone quarries in the area. Local schools all have Irish names, and most restaurants have Irish food and drinks on the menu.
The local convention and visitors bureau helps groups become Irish for a Day with 22 different Irish-themed experiences. Groups can visit an Irish dance school, where they meet world-class competitors and learn about the elaborate costumes used in traditional Irish dance.
Other Irish for a Day experiences include an Irish breakfast program, an Irish manor house meal and a cooking demonstration.
“One of our most popular experiences is a four-leaf-clover scavenger hunt through our historic district,” Szymkowiak said. “We divide them up into smaller groups and take them on a walking tour of downtown. They visit different businesses and learn about Dublin, Ireland, as well as Dublin, Ohio.”