Celebrating Heritage in Oldenburg

By Jane Ammeson 

  • Oldenburg’s Freudenfest (July 16-17) celebrates the town’s heritage with plenty of German beer and German food and music. Bid on one of the homemade pies which are auctioned off at Freudenfest (festival of fun) for prices ranging from $15 to $1000.
  • Stop by the Carriage House Antiques or Kutschenhaus, located in a former carriage house built in the late 1800s.
  • Kessing Haus Café is known for its freshly made breads baked in a wood burning oven.
  • Take one of the walking tours provide more glimpses into Oldenburg’s history.
  • Only 30 minutes from Brookville Lake
Oldenburg 7
Oldenburg 2

With its soaring church steeples dominating the sky in the gently rolling hills of Southeastern Indiana, known as the Village of Spires, is the perfect place for a taste of early 19th century Bavarian hospitality, charm and cuisine. A gem of a small town (population 600 most of whom are of German descent) mid-19th century red brick buildings accented with white abound with flower boxes of bright blooms and streets are called strasses and look like they’re swept clean once a day at least. It’s an uber-friendly place. Stop to admire a well-tended garden and you’re invited in to look at a historic home and share a cup of coffee.

Founded in 1837 by two German speculators who decided to name the village after their home region — the province of Oldenburg in Northern Germany, many of the homes are still known by the names of their original owners. The entire village, on National Register of Historic Places, retains the flavor of a small German village that’s more than 170 years old.

Interestingly, two of the village’s restaurants are known not only for their German fare (the sauerkraut served at Wagner’s Village Inn is made by a man who lives down the street), they’re favorites for pan fried chicken, often touted as the best in Indiana. Besides fried chicken, the Brau Haus, which opened 94 years ago, features such lieblingsgeruchte (favorites) as fresh bratwurst with sauerkraut on rye with a side of German potato salad and vorspeisen (appetizers) like sauerkraut balls served with Dusseldorf mustard.

As for the spires, there are the Victorian Romanesque and Baroque-style Franciscan chapels and churches topped with a variety of peaks, a rare Zwiebelturum or onion dome and a Gothic peak among others.

Less historical, but so much fun, brightly painted fire hydrants show the faces of the original owners whose homes they front. No matter how full you are, one other must stop is the Pearl Street Tavern, which has been a popular place for drinks and food in Oldenburg since the 1850s.

For more information see Trip Ideas at franklincountyin.com or call 866-647-6555.