Kuchen Festival Will be Tasty Time

"Kuchen Festival Will be Tasty Time." Forum, 11 October 1999.

DELMONT, SD - The Kuchen Festival scheduled to take place here Sunday must make barnyard chickens shudder.

In all, it took 144 eggs to make the dough for the festival's 357 kuchen and another 168 to form the custard, leaving 26 dozen eggs cracked for the upcoming festival.

"Those are some busy chickens," joked Margaret Michalski, one of about a dozen men and women who spent Saturday morning preparing the German dessert at the Legion Hall in Delmont.

The third annual Kuchen Festival will be held by the Historical Society of Delmont from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Proceeds will go toward remodeling an early 1900s pump house on the town's main street. Once completed, the building will serve as a museum, filled with donated items from the town's past, including an old fire engine.

"It's very close to being done," said Elizabeth "Sam" Grosz, who also helped make the kuchen. "We have just a few things left to do on the inside (of the building)."

The Historical Society and others in the community decided four years ago to save the building when city officials began to discuss razing the property, Grosz said.

Thanks to an $8,000 grant from the Deadwood Fund - money dedicated to historical preservation - and money raised from two previous kuchen festivals, residents were able to save it. "We thought that the building was a part of the town's history, and that it should be saved," Grosz said.

The festival, which basically started as a bake sale, has taken off in recent years.

Community members worked from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday to prepare the kuchen, which will sell for $5 each. In all, workers combined 26 dozen eggs with 100 pounds of flour, 3 gallons of milk, 80 pints of cream, 11 pounds of margarine and 55 pounds of sugar. "We were covered in flour at the end of the day," Grosz said.

This year, members of the Historical Society more than doubled the amount of kuchen that was made last year and prepared about seven times as much kuchen than in 1997.

Last year the group made about 150 kuchen, but the German pies sold out very quickly.

"They were gone in the first hour or two," Grosz said.

That's why, armed with Earla Strid's kuchen recipe, the Historical Society plans to double that figure this year with peach, apricot, cherry and even prune kuchen.

"We might even try a few poppy seed kuchen this year," said Strid, Historical Society president.

The kuchen-makers say their dessert has become more popular in recent years. Some members of the South Dakota Legislature even attempted to make it the state dessert during this year's session, but the proposal failed.

"I think people are trying to get back to their roots more," Strid said.

Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Fargo, North Dakota.

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