Northwood II

Vision, love and dedication make Glockenspiel a reality – Dubois County Free Press


Northwood II

A few years ago, Laura and Paul Grammer hatched a plan to strengthen the Strassenfest’s connection to festival’s German heritage with the addition of more traditional events.
This led to the creation of German Heritage Night that debuted on opening night in 2019. The new event celebrated Jasper’s connection to Germany with several traditional German dances and song performances including the Mai Pole dance. Then, spectators were invited to learn to dance the Schuhplattler — the six-step traditional Bavarian dance — and take part in the Schokospiel — a special game that awards participants with chocolate coins as they unwrap a cellophane-wrapped ball.
These heritage-based activities continued and grew again in 2021 — remember 2020 was canceled.
But this year, all of those plans will finally culminate with the newest addition to the Strassenfest, a lifesize Glockenspiel. A Glockenspiel is a clock that features spinning figures set to a melodic bell performance (a glockenspiel is a German musical instrument) that occurs at set intervals throughout the day.
The Strassenfest Glockenspiel will become a set piece for the German Heritage performances with the kinderchor performing the parts of the spinning figures in a traditional glockenspiel. Once the performances are complete, the hope is that the beautifully crafted clock will become a backdrop for photos commemorating annual visits to the Jasper festival.
Getting the glockenspiel built began as a pipe dream for Laura.
She remembers telling Paul she’d have to get the German Club to donate the money for the project (upwards of $20,000) and she’d have to get the one person she knew who could complete it to volunteer two years of his life to make it a reality.
“Wouldn’t you know it, the German Club gave me the money,” Laura said. “And, Jim Corn said yes. Hey, Jim Corn said yes!”
Jim is known for his craftsmanship as a woodworker and was a stone carver. His involvement was essential for what Laura envisioned.
In hindsight, getting the money and Jim to help were the easy parts.
The glockenspiel began with a simple drawing. “It wasn’t on a napkin but it was pretty close,” Jim joked.
Laura’s brother, Mike Ackermann, had taken the idea from the picture of a cuckoo clock she had found online and created a pretty elaborate idea that Jim immediately said he wouldn’t be able to do.
These updates between the group and the burgeoning idea occurred around the scheduled meetings of the Jasper German Club. So, a month later at the next meeting, Jim pulled Laura aside.
“He said, ‘I’ve got something to show you,’” she said. “And he unrolled the plans.”
It was exactly what she had in mind.
With a used trailer provided as a foundation and some ideas on height restrictions and width parameters, Jim began implementing building the giant cuckoo clock. He is an artist but also a craftsman with two homes under his belt and a kitchen project at home that has been put on hold for a couple of years due to the glockenspiel. Those skills all came to bear in creating the iconic piece that is nearly impossible to do justice in words.
The highly polished wooden-sided building has balconies on both sides with small doors to be used by the kinderchor during their performances. The balcony rail is comprised of hand-carved conifers that recall images of the Black Forest in Germany.
When finished the balcony will feature a carved wooden snail referencing the Schneckenfest, or Snail Festival, in Pfaffenweiler and the abundance of snails in the valley in which the German village is located. A bell will also be hanging from one of the ornate beams of the balcony overhang.
The roof has cedar shingles and the doors are all custom made for the special small, arched entrances.
Jim also hand-carved the Jasper Deutscherverein seal and Strassenfest logo attached to the side of the glockenspiel.
A special frame has been added to the front of the building that will hold an image of each year’s unique festival button, marking the year festival-goers attended the festival in any photographic memories created.
Plans call for the addition of more carved pieces reflecting Jasper’s heritage in coming years.
The core group of four — Jim and his wife, Rita and Laura and her husband, Paul — have been working on the glockenspiel for more than two years. Setbacks along the way included building a new house, the addition of some new grandchildren, surgery complications, the death of Laura’s father, and of course, the pandemic. With the many hours in Jim’s shop working together on the finer details, or building the structure on the trailer — at first in a barn donated by Mike Hochgesang and later finished in the garage near Ackerman Oil, the four became close friends over wood shavings and bloody knuckles.
“He is like another dad to me and she is like another mom to me,” Laura said.
“Is that cuz I chewed you out all the time,” Jim joked. “It felt like I was your dad?”
The iconic addition is now nearly done and will make its debut at this year’s Strassenfest.
Jim has enjoyed contributing his skills to the project. He loves working with wood and stone to create something new. For Laura, Jim’s commitment meant so much more than having someone paid to build it.
“It has more meaning,” Rita said adding that she was so proud of both of them. “They have both put so much effort into getting this completed.”
This is truly amazing! Laura Grammer is so creative. Beautiful job.
Jim Corn was probably the only person in the state of Indiana, or maybe even the nation, that had the skills needed to complete the project and the love for Jasper to donate 2 years of his life to making this dream a reality. Jim & Rita are amazing people!!
Just one note: All the German Heritage Performers, Kinderchor, Mai Pole performers and Willkommen dancers will be eligible to perform on the Glockenspiel. Signup sheets will be released soon.
My husband and I are privileged to call Jim and Rita great friends. Jim’s talent just amazes us. We will be in Jasper to attend the festivals. Charlie and Lynn High, Anderson, IN
I hope I get to run into you while you are here!
Congratulations Jim: you were like one of the family as most days (2 plus years) at my Farm Jim would be working on the Glockenspiel. He needed a 14 ft door to get unit in & out which I had in my new building. You are an awesome guy and a personal friend & fishing buddy. Thanks again Jim
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