When the Bukovina Society of Ellis county
hosts its third annual Bukovina Festival July 11-14, it will have a new
headquarters and museum to showcase.
Last week, one of the last
pieces of the project for the facility fell into place when the Ellis City
Council voted unanimously to pay for all utilities at the new
headquarters, and, said Oren Windholz, project chairman, the facility at
the First Congregational Church building in Ellis will be open by late
Windholz said the society
will base itself on the upper floor of the church where it will play
artifacts such as pictures and possessions of early Bukovina pioneers,
have a computer holding genealogical records of descendants and conduct
regular business of the society.
"It's not a pure tourist
center," Windholz said. "Actually, it's headquarters where someone can
work out of and it's tourable because of the types of things we collect."
He added he thought it
would be more "on par with the Chrysler, (Boyhood) Home" in Ellis as far
as a tourist attraction.
For the third-year,
all-volunteer staff organization, the new facility is important for
two main reasons. "First, we had nothing (for a headquarters), rotating
around offices and homes. Second, we now, have a place where people who
come back to visit can associate with their heritage," Windholz said.
Because there is no
current monument to the Bukovina ethnic background, Windholz said, the new
facility will serve as "an identity point for people of this heritage."
Response so far to the move, according to
Windholz, is "very positive." He said he felt the round of applause given
after the Ellis City Council assistance was approved was "indicative of
the wide-spread support of the city."
In fact, Windholz sees the Chrysler home and the museum
headquarters as attracting tourists for each other. People who tour one
are "likely" to visit the other, he said. "It's compatible to have more of
those things compliment each other," he said.
When beginning the search for the new headquarters
this' past Winter, Windholz said the organization didn't look at "a lot of
places" before deciding to try to get the church location.
Members of the society are descendants of
Lutheran and Catholic Germans who migrated to Bukovina, Austria and then
to Ellis. According to Windholz, 600 people make up the group's mailing
list, with about 300 of those being active members. The society boasts
members in half of the states, Canada and Mexico.
The society has as its major project each year the
annual Bukovina Festival. Over the first two years of the gathering, 350
and 400 people respectfully attended the festival, which includes
traditional songs, meals and entertainment, said Windholz. This year,
authentic German dancers will be added, and the number attending looks to
rise, Windholz added.
Working with the society on part of the festival is the
Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau, and, said Windholz, "it's that type
of support that makes it easier to run a volunteer organization."
According to Windholz, the identities of Bukovina and
Volga Germans of the area are quite parallel since most left Germany at
about the same time and migrated to the U.S. within 10 years of each