Frankenmuth is known far and wide as 'Michigan's Little Bavaria,' but what made Frankenmuth German? Why do buildings carry on the traditional Bavarian architecture? And is it authentic?
It all started with the founding of Frankenmuth in 1845 by 15 colonists from the Franconian region in Germany. Led by Pastor Wilhelm Loehe, the original intent was to bring spiritual comfort to the German pioneers in the Midwest and to also bring Christianity to the natives. As more and more Germans crossed the Atlantic, this region of the Saginaw Valley became home. They built settlements, removed forests for farming, and erected a log church in 1846. In 1847, when a dam and mill were built along the Cass River, Frankenmuth quickly established a reputation for its flour, saw, and woolen mills (two of which are still in operation today!).
Great changes happened after World War II when interstate highways led our community into the tourism industry and gave us the opportunity to capitalize on our assets. Economic and civic vitality serve the community and we pride ourselves on believing that all businesses have to work together, something that continues today in Frankenmuth.
DID YOU KNOW: "Franken" depicts the province from which German settlers came and "Muth" means courage in German, which translates to "courage of the Franconians."
We made sure to earn 1-800-FUN-TOWN as our phone number (yes, that's really our number!) by throwing amazing parties all year long, so what better way to celebrate our German heritage than having two great festivals that do just that: Frankenmuth Oktoberfest and Bavarian Festival. Oktoberfest begins in September to align with the start of the original Oktoberefest in Munich, Germany, and draws upwards of 10,000 people dressed in their lederhosen and dirndls ready to take part in German traditions.
Kids and adults of all ages sing and dance along to the polka bands. Frankenmuth's Oktoberfest was also the first one officially sanctioned to take place outside of Germany by Lord Mayor Christian Ude in 1996.
TRAVEL TIP: Go hunting for gnomes! Stop by in the Visitor Center and pick up your gnome hunt map, then explore town! Once you find 15 gnomes, return to the Visitor Center for a prize.
From the detail and care that goes into the architecture to the mouthwatering menu items seen across many of our restaurants, the pride for our Bavarian roots runs strong 365 days a year.
Cover photo: @tonfiselier