The German American Club of the Northern Catskills was
founded by Erwin Hildenhagen after a discussion with guests at a social
gathering in the summer of 1999.
On September 5, 1999, the first exploratory meeting was held. Erwin was
elected the club's first president for a 2-year term. The club was then
incorporated under the not-for-profit laws of the State of New York.
The first affair of the club was a Christmas party that was held at the
Hideaway Restaurant in Prattsville, NY. Some 40 members and guests attended to
celebrate the Christmas season, and the creation of our new club to keep our
German traditions and heritage alive.
As word of the club's existence circulated, the membership grew quickly. Those
that joined were looking for the same thing - a circle of friends with similar
interests, backgrounds, and the chance to put a little "Gemütlichkeit" into
their lives. Encouraged by the growing membership, the club started planning
various social events, as well as our first fundraiser, the "Oktoberfest".
This has now become an annual event.
The first "Oktoberfest" was held in the lower lodge at Belleayre Mountain Ski
Area, with more than 800 guests attending, and successfully raised substantial
donations to local institutions and needy families.
Club membership continued to grow, and our 2nd Oktoberfest
in 2001 was attended by more than 1200 people.
As the club continued its success, the members voted to have a club flag
created. A Flag Committee was formed under the leadership of Marianne Gohrig
to design a flag representing the area and our membership. On the Heimat
(home) side of the flag, a huge Catskill deer (buck) is pictured with the
surrounding motto, "Unsere Herkunft ist unsere Stärke" (Our origin is our
In 2002 the club initiated two local scholarships to graduating high school
students. For that year, one of the scholarships was presented to honor the memory
of the late Franz Luettger, the first Chairperson of the Scholarship
The club has many functions throughout the year for its members. It also
supports other clubs and organizations in the local and downstate areas. The
club has participated in the last three Steuben Day Parades held annually in
New York City.
Due to the dedication and efforts of our membership, we have been able to
support area institutions and programs helping the local community. To date we
have donated more than $13,000 locally, and plan to continue our efforts in