Northwest Ohio’s oldest and largest ethnic festival is only weeks away, and organizers are looking for some cherubic children to dress up, come to the festival and then stand absolutely, positively, still. At least for a minute.
The 43rd annual German-American Festival will be held Aug. 22-24 at Oak Shade Grove in Oregon. And, as has been the tradition for the past 17 years, on the final day of the festival, organizers are inviting local children to participate in an M.I. Hummel Look-Alike Contest.
Who is M.I. Hummel, you ask? Many people around the world associate the name Hummel with collectible figurines of cherubic young children engaged in everyday activities or playing dress-up like adults. There are hundreds of them in assorted colors and various poses.
The German-American Festival contest invites children ages 2 to 10 to dress up in clothing and use props to recreate one of the Hummel figurines. Participants must pose before a panel of three Hummel-knowledgeable judges and hold that pose for one minute in order to be considered.
First-, second- and third-place winners as well as honorable mention prizes are presented to children in the 2-3-4, 5-6-7 and 8-9-10 age categories.
There is no entry fee. Applications to compete must be received by Aug. 9. Contestants and their families do not need to be a member of any of the German or Swiss societies who organize the festival in order to compete. The event is open to the public.
The Hummel contest is sponsored by the festival in conjunction with several supporters, including Alan Miller Jewelers of Oregon, House of Tradition of Perrysburg, Sutter’s Hallmark of Bowling Green, Organic Bliss Deli & Bakery of Toledo, European Imports of Niles, Ill.; and Goebel, Inc. of Pennington, N.J.
Now if that Goebel name at the end of the supporters list looks familiar, too, it should. The firm’s founder is the man who helped bring the Hummel figurine to the world. But let’s start at the beginning.
Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel was a Catholic nun from Germany who grew up during the early 1900s. She survived two World Wars, drawing life-like portraits of the children she watched and cared for at the monastery playground. Her whimsical works portrayed the children in unusual style, telling a story about each with an amazing amount of reality.
When Franz Goebel saw the drawings, he immediately recognized their artistic value and approached Sister about a partnership where he would turn her paintings of the children into figurines that his company, W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik, would sell.
Thus, M.I. Hummel figurines were born.
Sister Maria would work with Goebel and his employees, helping to choose the colors that would be used in the figurines that were being created under his supervision. The nun approved each piece created and her signature would appear on each one.
The nun was stricken by tuberculosis and died in 1946, but her signature continues to appear on each Hummel figurine today unless the figurine is a miniature without enough surface for stamping it.
And because Sister Maria’s wonderful works live on, the German-American Festival hopes to bring attention to these wonderful figurines with the annual contest.
According to recent news reports, Goebel, the manufacturer the figurines, announced it would stop production by the end of the year due to a steep decline in sales.
For additional information about the contest or an entry form, visit www.gafsociety.org/hummel.htm or contact Marlene Shoalts, contest chairwoman, at 419-836-9227 or via e-mail at mshoalts @msn.com.