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Holand, Hjalmar Rued, 1872-1963 / Wisconsin's Belgian community : an account of the early events in the Belgian settlement in northeastern Wisconsin with particular reference to the Belgians in Door County

Chapter VII: Belgian characteristics and customs,   pp. [81]-97 PDF (2.5 MB)

Page 83

into existence the numerous Dutch ovens of which many
are still in service. In these huge ovens with the accom-
panying bakehouses fifteen pies or forty loaves of bread
could be baked at once and with better success.
    In the earlier days of the settlement the Kirmess dances
were very picturesque. A committee of young men gaily
festooned with ribbons of many colors, was in charge of the
community festival in each parish, and Belgian folk dances
were danced on the highway to the singing of Belgian songs
under the light of the harvest moon. But when the auto-
mobile came into general use, the highway became unsafe
for dancing, and the dancers had to crowd into dance halls.
The folk dances also went out of use and were succeeded by
the Fox Trot and the Charleston because the young people
wanted to be "up to date". At present, however, there is
a growing demand to revive the folk dances.
    Besides the dancing there were also many other forms
of amusement at the Kirmess festival such as climbing
greased poles, catching greased pigs or giving a blind-fold-
ed man a scythe with which he was supposed to decapitate
a goose. Foot races were also a feature, and most popular
of all, horse races, the winner receiving the bridle as a prize.
The following account of the first Kirmess in the new land
will be read with interest by all Belgians :1
         It was late August, the year-1858. On the
    western rim of that unknown sea of forest that
    dipped down toward La Ba~ye Verte, a ruddy, opu-
    lent looking sun was just tangling itself among the
    leafy branches of the taller tree tops.  Young,
    broad-shouldered Amia Champaign paused at the
1 Written by Lee W. Metzner and printed in Wisconsin
Magazine of History (June, 1931) 14: 341-353.  It was
originally printed in the Kewaunee Enterprise.

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