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Small-town celebration offers big-time fun





VICTORIA -- The 31st annual Herzogfest Saturday morning had all the earmarks of a festive summer occasion -- parade, fundraising booths, musical entertainment, local politicians, and good natured banter at the opening ceremony.

Even Mother Nature cooperated with clear blue skies, calm wind and mild temperatures.

The parade included fire trucks, horses and classic cars. Dignitaries included U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and state Rep. Sue Boldra, R-Hays.

Moran, a former Hays resident, stopped to shake hands as he made his way to the stage for the ceremony.

"The message I take back to Washington when I return is what I see and hear in Victoria and other communities across our state, which is: We just need some common sense, some judgment, some working together to solve our nation's problems," Moran said.

He praised the Victoria community for its sense of responsibility and understanding "the role that God and our faith plays in our lives and our nation."

Boldra called the community a "garden place" with well-manicured lawns and beautiful flowers.

The Legislature "did a really good job protecting life and liberty," she said. "Those were the two big issues."

Marge Rome, Herzogfest committee chair, acknowledged the part Rick Rupp has played in making the event successful since it started.

Rupp announced his retirement from the event last year.

"This man right here, even though he said, 'That's it; I'm done,' he's helped out a lot," Rome said of Rupp. "He's kind of in the background, (but) still doing his thing."

Victoria native Kenny Billinger took over duties as master of ceremonies this year.

The annual event brings many, like Doris Werth, coming back year after year.

"They add something new every year," Werth said. "Come here all day, you're going to enjoy yourself ... see people you haven't seen for awhile."

Kay Von Lintel was one of about half a dozen women helping out in the booth for St. Boniface Parish in Vincent. The church's booth is a relative newcomer, having started about five years ago, Von Lintel said.

The menu included galuskies, pigs in a blanket, chicken and noodles and green bean dumpling soup, as well as a selection of baked goods.

"The crowd last night was awesome," Von Lintel said.

Richard Younger of Hays has been coming to Herzogfest for about 10 years.

"It amazes me that a small community puts it together."

"We had a lot of help this year from sponsors," said Carol Freitag, a member of the organizing committee.

The festival also included free swimming at the city pool, a classic car show, and concerts -- some showcasing local talent.

"Victoria is so full of local talent," Freitag said.

"They say there's a singer in every other house," said Brenda Schmidtberger-Yoder, also a member of the committee.