Now that the planning for the 51st annual Haus und Garten Tour is behind us, we can focus on the true winners of last weekend - not the homes or gardens, but those individuals recognized for all they do on behalf of the German Village Society.
Now that the planning for the 51st annual Haus und Garten Tour is behind us, we can focus on the true winners of last weekend — not the homes or gardens, but those individuals recognized for all they do on behalf of the German Village Society.
The Frank Fetch Award was presented to John and Jan Clark. The Clarks have been so deeply involved in the society for years that it's hard to know where to begin when trying to list their contributions. They have served individually and together on a variety of committees and John served for several years on the society's board of trustees.
They have chaired events, they have made the society staff look good by serving as technology tutors and they have documented countless society events through photographs. They have collaborated on our award-winning Visitor Center video and have made videos that we share each year with Columbus City Council.
The time they have given is astounding. Very often the reward for such generosity of spirit is more work — when we know how reliable and talented they are, we can't help having them as a go-to in a pinch. But last weekend was all about recognizing their talents, their time and their willingness to do just about anything for the neighborhood they love.
They have shared their talents, their home and each other with German Village, and this award, as big as it is for the society, still seems like a small way to thank them for all they have done.
Much like the Clarks, who seem to do their best work behind the scenes, Jim Plunkett is this year's Village Valuable. Mr. Plunkett (he teases me mercilessly, but I'll always call him "mister") was my right-hand man for Oktoberfest operations and seems to serve in that capacity for nearly every society event.
He is always willing to help set up, tear down and plan for an event. He does all the work that keeps him out of the spotlight. He volunteers in Frank Fetch Park, he lends ready assistance to the Garten Club and his number-one goal is to make things run as smoothly as possible.
Mr. Plunkett does all of this without seeking recognition or public thanks; rather, he does it simply as a way to keep involved. Like the Clarks, he lends the society his expertise. He is willing to work and he is a meticulous planner.
For my purposes with Oktoberfest, he was a delegator who could lead volunteers and laborers to get a job done quickly and right the first time. This means a lot when it involves setting up 500 tables and chairs. He makes everyone he works with feel like a valued part of the team, and I can only hope that we've done the same for him.
Perhaps the most fun side of Mr. Plunkett is his readiness to celebrate a job well done long after everyone else has gone home. Our operations committees have shared many a late-night snack with Mr. Plunkett, and we always gotten good stories out of him (but none about his time with the NFL — that's a different Jim Plunkett who has the good fortune of sharing a name with our Mr. Plunkett!).
The third award presented in the last week was the Fred and Howard Award, given at the Fred and Howard Award Breakfast on June 17. This award is all about ambassadorship for German Village, so how could it have gone to anyone other than the Schmidt family?
The Schmidt family has owned and operated Schmidt's Restaurant und Sausage Haus in German Village since 1886, but today we might know them best for their incredible tourist draw. (How many times have you been asked for directions?) Their history is our neighborhood's history, and their success has helped German Village tremendously, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s when we were really getting going.
The Schmidts always have the interests of German Village at heart and work to sell the neighborhood as much as they sell themselves. Schmidt's of German Village is a destination for thousands each year and with each bus tour that stops there for lunch, other businesses prosper, either on the spot or through word of mouth.
Many visitors learn of our neighborhood and its history, culture and beauty when they first embark on a tour that includes a stop at Schmidt's. And, invariably, they come back. The restaurant is fun and traditional and serves classic German cuisine, which is perfect for German Village.
Many thanks to each of the award winners for all they have done and continue to do. We wouldn't be German Village without them.
Jody Graichen is director of Historic Preservation Programs for the German Village Society.