History

This year marks the 9th annual Harvest Festival celebration - but did you know that the origins of today's festival came from events put together by a group of dedicated citizens known as the "Family Council" in the late 1990's?

Hanover itself is a unique community with a rich history dating back to the mid 1800's.

Here is a brief glimpse back in time highlighting the origins of the festival, and local historical information that demonstrates why our 'Little City on the Crow' is so special.


Hanover Harvest Festival History - Family Council 1997The Hanover Harvest Festival as we know it today was inspired by the efforts of members of the Family Council Committee - assembled in 1997.

 

The committee was made up of a group of dedicated local individuals; co-founders Arlee Anderson & Kayla Scherber, Kris Brandjord, Tammy Goskey, Jeff Kessler, Terri Kurash, Annette Roberts, Kathy Robinson, Dee Ruter, Sonia Steman, Stephanie Strehlow & Todd Urbanski.

 Hanover Harvest Festival History - Early Event Buttons

Their first event was the "Harvest Fest", held on October 18th-19th in 1997, and featured a Pancake Breakfast, Craft Show & a "Candlelight and Cider Hayride" event.

 Hanover Harvest Festival History - Event Flyer

In 1998, the Festival took on some more carnival-like events like a Merry Go Round, Dunk Tank Moon Walk and Miniature Golf.  This event was held on July 12th.

 

Members of the Family Council have continued to give back to our community, and the Hanover Harvest Festival was re-started in 2005 by Dave and Abby Peterson.

Dave has left us, and Abby is no longer a board member for the Harvest Festival.  However, this now treasured yearly event will continue to go on due to the efforts of active and dedicated volunteers within our community!


In 1856, two years prior to Minnesota statehood, two adventurous brothers - Jacob and William Vollbrecht - bid farewell to their Hannover, Germany town in search of a better life. They migrated separately to America. Jacob arrived in Wright County first, and homesteaded 160 acres on both sides of the Crow River (Hennepin and Wright counties).

Early Hanover BridgeEarly records indicate that the small community was first known as Vollbrecht Mills, and not officially named Hanover until 1891 when the town was incorporated. At the time of incorporation, Hanover had 206 residents - the vast majority being German Lutherans. It is unknown who the first mayor was.

Although the Minnesota prairie around what would become Hanover was home to the Ojibwe Indians, the Vollbrecht brothers and other early German settlers existed peacefully with them. In fact, according to Florence Vollbrecht Book in a 1991 interview, her Uncle Jake first lived in a log cabin. "He and the Indians became friendly and helped each other. It was not uncommon for him to let them sleep in his barn at night. As the story goes, one night they were sleeping in his hayloft and Uncle Jake had to take some flour down to St. Anthony in the morning. As he paddled in his canoe down the Crow River, he glanced back and saw smoke through the trees. The Indians had been smoking and a spark lit the hay on fire and they accidentally burned down his house. They helped him build a new cabin when Jake returned."

Early Hanover Flour MillingMilling was the original town industry, supported of course, through local crop farming. The Vollbrecht brothers built the first flour mill along the Crow River and the historic Pratt 'Through Truss Iron Pedestrian' Bridge, which was erected in 1885.

The first businesses in Hanover in the early 1900s included: Hanover Roller Mills, Saenger’s Blacksmith Shop, Wagon and Carriage Shop, the sawmill, Nicholas Borscheid’s Blacksmith Shop, the Vollbrecht Hardware Store, Haefer Saloon, the Greenwood House (now the Hilltop Bar), Louis Strunk’s Meat market, Strunk’s Saloon (now the River Inn), Hanover Creamery and the Hanover State Bank. The first village hall was erected around the turn of the 20th century and had two jail cells in the back.

Early Hanover FarmingIn the early summer of 1934, gangster John Dillinger came to town for a shave at the barber shop, which was connected to the Corner Bar (formerly Strunk’s Saloon) and owned by Christ Lieder. He allegedly had been holed up at Beebe Lake in a cabin and was on the run from the Feds. (John Dillinger was shot to death on July 22, 1934 in Chicago.)

Gustave Dorn, born in 1895, was the son of a former Greenwood House proprietor. He wrote that circa 1905-1906, "We had the first ice cream cones to be served in Hanover. I believe one lad ate 19 in a day and was sick for a week."