Oodles of Noodles
Hoffman, Susan. "Oodles of Noodles." Daily Republic, 19 March 2002.
FREEMAN, SD - Anyone who has ever cooked a batch of pasta knows
how hard it can be to come up with exactly the right amount of noodles.
But members of the Freeman Academy Women's Auxiliary have learned
after many years of noodle-making for the annual Schmeckfest celebration
that there is no such thing as too many noodles - especially when
the noodles are homemade.
"We never have enough," said Arlyss Brockmueller, a member
of the Auxiliary and one of seven women on the noodle committee.
Schmeckfest, set for April 4-6, is Freeman's annual fundraiser
for the Freeman Academy. Schmeckfest is a celebration of ethnic
food, traditional crafts and music celebrating the cultures of the
three ethnic groups that settled the Freeman area - the Hutterites,
Low Germans and Schweitzer Mennonites.
"The Freeman Academy Auxiliary has organized and produced
this festival for 44 years," said Marlan Kaufman, president
of Freeman Academy. "The funds that come from Schmeckfest help
to fund the general budget of the school."
This year's Schmeckfest will feature evening meals, as well as
the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Carousel," which
will be presented Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, and during
a special afternoon matinee on Sunday, April 7.
Approximately 26 Auxiliary members spent Monday making noodles
to sell in the Schmeckfest Country Kitchen. Noodle soup also is
served during the Schmeckfest's family-style evening meals.
"These are strictly to sell," Brockmueller said. "There
are other people who are assigned to make homemade noodles for the
Each evening during Schmeckfest, approximately 1,000 people dine
in the basement of Pioneer Hall on the Academy campus. "They
serve a thousand guests every night for three nights," Kaufman
said. "We're probably looking at close to 5,000 people that
would be here in a three-day period."
Auxiliary members usually devote two or three days prior to Schmeckfest
to making noodles to sell. It takes about 230 pounds of flour and
three cases of eggs to make the noodles.
The Auxiliary hopes to have at least 300 pounds of noodles ready
The noodles are packaged in one-pound bags. Demand for the noodles
is so high that patrons are only allowed to purchase 5 pounds per
person. "It takes so terribly many noodles to make a pound,"
Brockmueller said. "There's no weight to noodles. They dry
and there's nothing there."
The process of making noodles involves several steps. First, the
dough is mixed in a giant, commercial mixer, then kneaded to just
the right texture and rolled out into thin strips, which are laid
out to dry.
After just the right amount of time, the dough is ready to be cut.
"If they're (the strips of dough) too dry, it doesn't work
very well. They break and they don't go through very well. If they're
too wet, they stick," said Gertie Graber.
The cut noodles are then laid out on tables where they are gently
turned after a period of time. The noodles must be allowed to dry
for a couple of days so they don't get moldy when placed in plastic
bags to be sold.
In addition to the homemade noodles, the Country Kitchen features
a variety of German treats for sale. "(It's) all local home-grown
and home-prepared items," Kaufman said. "They have little
things called fruit pockets, kuchen, poppyseed rolls, cheese pockets."
The entire Academy campus is transformed during Schmeckfest into
a bustling venue for demonstrations ranging from soap making, to
weaving, to stories told by local historians.
The quality of the musical production often rivals that of those
put on by troupes of traveling professionals, according to Kaufman.
"It's just an amazing pool of talent that's in this area,"
A small percentage of the money raised during Schmeckfest is also
used by the Auxiliary to upgrade and maintain the school's kitchen
in Pioneer Hall. The Auxiliary also donated money to assist with
the hall's lobby renovation that is currently being completed. "They're
considering a new sound system and new stage curtains," Kaufman
Those planning to attend Schmeckfest are advised that the evening
meals and musical often sell out. "The evening meal is by advanced
tickets only," Kaufman said. "The meal tickets are sold
out for Friday and Saturday and very few are left for Thursday."
There are a few general admission tickets available for the musical.
"All reserved seats for the musical are sold out on Thursday,
Friday and Saturday. There are a few remaining for the Sunday matinee
at 2 p.m.," he said.
Kaufman said Schmeckfest is a great example of community spirit.
And even though many of the volunteers who help organize the festival
are getting on in years, it's still worth every day spent making
noodles, cheese buttons, or homemade sausage.
"It's still pretty good," Brockmueller said. "There
may be a different story in five to 10 years from now. I feel as
long as that many ladies are willing to come, it's worth the effort."
Reprinted with permission of The Daily Republic.