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Local food, beverages, writers showcased during Harvest & History Fest

September 25, 2018

The Raasches, Braasches and Dedermans who settled in the area 152 years ago probably took time to enjoy good music, good food and good drinks when harvest was done.

So, no doubt they would have joined in the fun at the Elkhorn Valley Museum in Norfolk on Saturday when the museum hosted its first “Harvest & History Fest.”

There, longtime Norfolkans — as well as newcomers — enjoyed locally made food and beer while listening to the music of Nita and the Pipesmokin’ Charlies. The activities took place in Verges Park, the Dederman Cabin and School and the museum itself.

The event was part of Norfolk’s annual Oktoberfest celebration, which took place Friday and Saturday.

In addition to sampling food and beverages, museum guests also heard local authors read their works, and children got to decorate paper hands that for the “Hands in Heritage” project. The decorated hands will be displayed in the museum.

“The project provides children with the opportunity to “have a hand in preserving history,” said JoBeth Cox, the museum’s executive director.

While children did crafts and played games, adults sampled locally-made beers provided by Divots Brewery in Norfolk, Johnnie Byrd Brewery in Wayne and NoCoast Brewery in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Greg Ptacek of Johnnie Byrd Brewery offered several varieties of “home brew” including a vanilla stout, honey porter and a grapefruit pale ale.

He said the key to creating a beer is starting with a “tagline” or an idea of what its brewmaster wants the beer to taste like and you “go from there.”

For instance, when creating the honey porter, the goal was a “nice, crisp, clear flavor” that did not have a lot of malt of hops. The process started with a base and ingredients were added until the right taste was found.

“That’s the fun part,” Ptacek said

The business opened in Wayne last December and since then has been going well.

“People will travel a long way for good beer,” Ptacek said.

In addition to tasting beer, attendees also sampled Wragge Dogs, made by the Terry Wragge and his crew at Pierce Lockers in Pierce, home-grown sweet corn and homemade ice cream provide by J’s Place of Pierce.

On Saturday, Kate Trindle dipped hot sweet corn in a tub of butter before handing it to waiting customers. In addition to the corn, many people chose a Wragge Dog dripping with ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut and other fixings.

“We’ve got local corn, local hot dogs, local ice cream ... local beer,” Trindle said.

Inside the museum, several authors read from their books of prose and poetry, including Barbara Schmitz and Charlotte Endorf, both of Norfolk, Mary Avidano of Elgin and Neil Harrison of Wayne.

Although the crowd gathered in the park was small initially, it grew as the afternoon progressed, for which Cox was grateful. In all, several hundred people attended.

“We’re trying to bring people of all ages into the museum,” Cox said, which is why the festival offered a variety of entertainment and activities.

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