Thursday, July 31, 2008

Guten Morgen! Today is Thursday, July 31, 2008

CASPER, WYOMING -- GOVERNOR APPEARS TODAY It was an Old West welcome last night for more than 700 people registered thus far for the International Convention of Germans from Russia in Casper. More are anticipated today (7/31) as the week-long convention at the Parkway Plaza Hotel moves in to high gear with Opening Ceremonies slated for 8:30 a.m. Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal will greet conventioneers to the Cowboy State.

IS THERE A FIREMAN IN THE HOUSE? At mid-day Wednesday (7/30), what was said to be a “small electrical fire” at the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Center caused a bit of an uproar. Shortly after noon, hotel workers evacuated the hotel after a small fire was detected, triggering alarms throughout the complex. The Casper Fire Department arrived on the scene and spent a good deal of time securing the area, which was confined to a small part of “The Tower” building. The furor delayed check-ins for persons just arriving for the convention. Some weren’t able to get to their rooms until about 4:00 p.m. In the end, despite a hint of remaining smoke, hotel workers opened windows and made up most of the rooms so that by 5:00 p.m., it was hard to tell there had been any disturbance.

V-Cs THANKED Just off Heritage Hall, German-Russian Village Coordinators met yesterday afternoon in the Wyoming Room. Rich Aspenleiter of Spokane, Dennis Zitterkopf of Wichita, and Gayla Gray of Spokane, welcomed V-Cs to the convention. All had a chance to introduce themselves and say a few words about their village or area.

OLD WEST CUISINE OFFERED UP Convention Co-Chairs Patti Sellenrick of Sheridan, Wyoming and Al Feist of Hebron, North Dakota greeted attendees during a Welcome Night Western Buffet with some great hot barbecue sandwiches with corn on the cob and all the tasty trimmings the chuckwagon boss could put together. Many attendees got with the program and were sporting cowboy hats and boots, but there were probably more “city slickers” in the crowd.

EDUCATOR SAYS ‘HOWDY” Dr. Maggie Murdock, Associate Vice-President for Academic Affairs for the University of Wyoming was on hand to extend greetings as well. She acknowledged the enormous contributions that German-Russians have made in Wyoming and across the country. She noted that former Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer – a German-Russian descendant – helped establish a special relationship between the University of Wyoming and Saratov State University in Russia, which continues to this day.

ABOUT THAT FIRE Hotel General Manager Patrick Sweeney made an unexpected appearance before the dinner gathering, noting that any danger from the small electrical fire earlier in the day was quickly curtailed. In fact, the fire was put out before Casper Fire Department units were on the scene. Nonetheless, he outlined the rigorous inspection process that was implemented in order to ensure guest safety. He assured the crowd that everything was now safe.

IT’S “DOGIE” – NOT ‘DOGGY” Western singer Kent Neubert of Casper provided some great after-dinner music featuring songs of the Old West. Accompanied by Jim Halsey, also of Casper, Neubert seemed to capture the attention and appreciation of the entire audience.

LOCAL DRAMA The evening was not without its humor, offered up first by Marvin Nolte as an alcoholic and rowdy “Dr. Benson,” and Carol Chapin as “Ettie Hurt.” Their portrayals of these colorful characters from yesteryear gave the audience a flavor of the early days of Casper and the Old West. They wandered through the audience and told their stories – warts and all -- pulling no punches about their trials and tribulations. It was a bit of western history with a touch of good humor!

WHO WAS THAT LADY IN THE RED HAT? Not to be outdone, the Crimson Dames Red Hat Society Kitchen Band brought the house down with their inventive musical talents, occasionally bawdy humor and lighthearted musical stylings of many great American standard songs. Alas, one of the damsels just wouldn’t stay with the group, straying around the audience and planting lipstick on the foreheads of more than just a few of the gentlemen in the audience.

ADMINISTRATIVE BUSINESS Earlier in the day, the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR) Directors and the International Foundation of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (IFAHSGR) Trustees met for meeting. Foundation President Mayo Flegel of Mankato, Minnesota says a full report of foundation activities will be presented Thursday (7/31) at the Foundation Buffet Luncheon in the Ballroom of the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Casper. Flegel will preside for IFAHSGR, while Ted Becker of Minneapolis will preside for HFGR. The luncheon speaker will be Dr. Nina Vaschkau from Volgograd State University in Russia on Deportation of Russian Germans in 1941 and its Consequences.

CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS BEGIN TODAY More than 40 workshops on a variety of topics begin this afternoon. Among the offerings starting at 2:30:
Northern Volga Catholic Villages
SOAR – What is It and What Data is Available On-line?
Kanton Frank and Northern protestant Villages of Kanton Kamenka
An introduction to Mennonite Genealogy
Shatter Belt: Western Russia and the Easter Austro-Hungarian Empire
Looking at the Land of Your Ancestors
Beresan (BDO ) Area

Another round of workshops begins at 3:45p.m., including:
Crimea – A Black Sea Jewel
Kutschurgan Roundup
Village Coordinators – Strategies and Information
Photo Journey to Russian Archives, Universities, and Villages
Hoffnungstal Odessa Parish
Reading Cyrillic Script
To the Kingdom of Death: A Research Trip to the Former German Villages in the Ukraine

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