For nearly 140 years, the Hayes Township Schuetzen Verein has always taken place on the first Sunday in June.
The only time it didn’t was when it was cancelled. That occurred during the World War I and World War II years.
That makes changes in this year’s Schuetzen Verein (King Shoot) momentous in two ways.
First, the Hayes Township Schuetzen Verein will still take place, whereas some German heritage celebrations (schuetzenfests in Omaha and Bow Valley, Nebraska) have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Second, for the first time ever, the Hayes Township Schuetzen Verein will be on a different date – September 6, the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.
“We looked back and to our knowledge, it’s always been the first Sunday in June,” said Troy Gehlsen with the Hayes Township Schuetzen Verein, “so for us to move it was a big deal. We met two different times as a board to discuss this.”
Board members are hoping that fewer restrictions will be placed on large social gatherings by the Labor Day weekend.
Gehlsen explained that the holiday weekend in September was about as late as the board could schedule the event and still hope for a good crowd. Later than that and the season will change to harvest time, and many of the board members, as well as participants, are farmers.
“We decided we had to make the decision (on moving the date) no later than May 1 because of everybody involved in putting on the event, in order for them to work it back into their schedules,” Gehlsen said.
The Wendinger Band, of New Ulm, Minnesota, was the first call made by the board once the date was changed. Gehlsen said the band was able to add the Hayes Township Schuetzen Verein into its schedule for the later date.
The 2019 Schuetzen Verein king and queen, Brad Buren, of Vail, and Jackie Petersen, of Westside, were also near the top of the list of people to notify. The event’s king and queen from the previous year are in charge of the food and other details of running the Schuetzen Verein.
Gehlsen added that it was important to notify the German American Society in Omaha and the Verein in Bow Valley because both send a good contingent of participants to the Hayes Township Schuetzen Verein.
“We wanted to let people know early enough so they can plan to attend as part of their Labor Day weekend activities,” said Gehlsen. “We hope we have the same numbers we would normally have in June. We think we’re still going to have a good crowd.”