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Hermann Hill Newsletter

Hermann Hill Vineyard & Inn

 December 2005 Newsletter

To our Guests & Friends,

Seasons greetings to you all.

Old Man Winter has arrived in Hermann reminding us it is time to get serious about finishing up holiday shopping, planning parties and family gatherings, and making final preparations for a month filled with special activities.

The shops featured in this newsletter can be found on the Gift and Specialty Shops page on our web site. These, and the shops we wrote about last month, are ready to help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your shopping list. Tastefully Yours* carries a wide variety of culinary items, Back Home Again* offers a large selection of home decorating accessories, while at Shabby Shack* you'll find up-to-date fashions for the entire family. Need a frame for a special photograph? Red Barn Craft Shop can help. Or, send a floral arrangement from Hermann Florist*. How about a funny T-shirt from Good Buys*? And, don't forget to stop by the gift shops at area wineries. For a quick pick-me-up during your shopping spree, you'll find coffee, tea, and lots of goodies at Die Heimat*.

Back Home Again
Back Home Again is
located on Schiller Street

A gift certificate from Hermann Hill is another way to show someone you care. Just go to our web site for information about purchasing a gift certificate online. They apply to stays at both Hermann Hill Vineyard and Inn and Hermann Hill Village.

Or, how about giving the gift of flight? Bart Engemann offers scenic tour flights of the Hermann area as well as flying lessons. You can read about Engemann Aviation Services in our October 2005 newsletter or contact Bart at 573-690-4812.

Please note that locations mentioned in the newsletter marked with an asterisk (*) can be found along Hermann Hill's three-mile walk route.

Catching the Christmas spirit
There's no better way to catch the Christmas spirit in Hermann than to visit a Kristkindl Markt. These traditional German Christmas marketplaces are held the first two weekends in December. Each features two dozen artisans and crafters, music of the season, and food. Handcrafted products include Christmas ornaments, original baskets, soaps, German lace, fiber arts, decorated gourds, hand painted china and pottery, furniture, copper art, and items related to the German Settlement in the Midwest.

Kristkindl Markt
This vendor at Stone Hill Winery's Kristkindl Markt sells beeswax and honey products.

Stone Hill Winery* is the site of the market on Dec. 3 and 4, which is co-sponsored by the winery and the Hermann Area Chamber of Commerce. Floral decorations are provided by Special Occasions and Hermann Florist and a 12-foot natural tree has been donated by Pea Ridge Christmas Tree Farm. Students at local schools made the tree decorations. A food booth serves up homemade soups and cookies and locally made bratwurst. Throughout the weekend local musicians, who include children from the cast of "A Christmas to Remember," the John Berkemeyer Quintet and the Hermann High School Kammer Chor, will perform while Victorian carolers stroll the grounds of the winery singing traditional Christmas songs. For information, see the calendar of events on Stone Hill's web site at

Hermannhof Winery and the Hermann Arts Council sponsor the Dec. 10 and 11 Kristkindl Markt. Held at the historic Festhalle* at 237 E. First St., the weekend features costumed artisans selling one-of-a-kind gifts, chestnuts roasting in the old stone fireplace, costumed storytellers, Grimm's Fairy Tales characters, and more. Musical performances throughout the weekend include the Apostle Band, The Kent Strings, the Hermann Carolers, the handbell choir from St. Paul UCC, and other instrumental and choral groups. There even will be an alpenhorn demonstration. Traditional Gluhwein (hot spiced wine) and foods provided by several area restaurants will be available at the Kristkindl Cafe.

For additional information about Kristkindl Markt and other holiday events, see Both weekends, the Kristkindl Markts will be open from 10-5 on Saturday and 10-4 on Sunday.

Kristkindl Markt
Joan Treis (r) assists a visitor at the Kristkindl Markt at the Festhalle. She is one of the chairpersons of the event.

Two house tours are scheduled in December. The Chamber of Commerce will host the tour on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 2-7 p.m. Five houses will be open. "The tour is really special this year because of the variety of styles of the homes. They range from very historic and primitive to modern," said Janet LaBoube, chairwoman of the event. There will be music at one of the locations and all attendees will be served refreshments at the historic White House Hotel. Tickets may be purchased at the Hermann Welcome Center on the day of the tour, or in advance.

The St. George Rectory tour is scheduled for Dec. 10. Please see the story below.

Other events taking place in December are "Kinder Christmas" at the German School Museum* and Weihnachtsfest at Deutschheim State Historic Site*. Both locations will host these events on the first and second weekends in the month. At the Showboat Theatre, the kids of MadKap Productions will perform "A Christmas to Remember." Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3 p.m. Dec. 3. Tickets are available at the Hermann Welcome Center, or at the door. On Dec. 10, the Columbia Handbell Ensemble is returning to Hermann for a 7:30 p.m. performance at St. Paul UCC.

For a complete listing of upcoming events, please check the local calendar. To read about Christmas events, visit

Decking the halls at St. George Rectory
Father Bill Debo, the priest at St. George Church in Hermann, is a busy man. He's decking the halls, and the walls, and the mantels, and just about any other available surface he can find to put one of the thousands of decorations, candles, and greenery that will adorn St. George rectory for the holidays.

Father Bill
Father Bill Debo decorates a new tree that will be on display during the holidays at St. George Rectory.

Father Bill, with the help of his family, friends, school students, and parishioners, has been getting ready for the December 10th open house since mid October. That seems early until you realize that about two dozen trees have to be decorated for the open house.

The first tree to be decorated, and a new one this year, was in place by mid November. "I put it up first to be sure it worked in the room," said Father Bill, who got the idea for this whimsical tree at Botanicals in the Park, a shop in St. Louis. The tree is white with hot pink and lime green ornaments.

Trees displayed at the rectory range in size from a foot tall to 9 1/2 feet. No one has been able to come up with an accurate count of just how many are displayed throughout the two-story building. The tallest, the Mardi Gras tree, is adorned with beads, feathers, and masks in the traditional purple, green and gold Mardi Gras colors.

A favorite of Father Bill's is the Wizard of Oz tree that is decorated with theme ornaments he's collected for years. Then there is the tea cup tree that is dressed with tea cups and feathers in several shades of pink. This is just one of many trees that is done up in a Victorian theme. His elegant, traditional Victorian tree in the parlor is one that Father Bill has displayed for many years.

Father Bill hails from a talented family. Much of his inspiration comes from a great aunt. "She was the most user-friendly person I knew and she had a way of making things from nothing," said Father Bill. Thanks to her, Father Bill admitted, "I'm best friends with my hot glue gun. I take simple things, paint them, and roll them in glitter. I guess I'm kind of a Martha Stewart fan." It sounds like he's following not only in his aunt's footsteps but also a grandmother's, whose home he would help decorate for the holidays. In fact, many of the decorations Father Bill uses at the rectory were hers. Reminiscing about these women's influence on him, Father Bill said, "I guess you gain a love with deep roots of creativity and not even know it."

Father Bill studied at the Colorado Institute of Art in Denver. His major was in advertising design. Core courses for his degree included fashion design, photography, and interior design. So it's no wonder that he has the ability to create such an elaborate display. 'More is more' in his eyes, especially at Christmas. And, he said, "Being creative is therapeutic and stimulates good mental health." By the looks of things, Father Bill should have one of the healthiest minds around.

This year's St. George Rectory Tour is scheduled for December 10 from noon to 8. The rectory was built for Franciscan Friars in 1915. In addition to viewing the beautiful Christmas display, a walk through the building is a lesson in religious art history and religious symbolism.

There is no charge for the tour, however, a goodwill offering at the door will benefit the Hermann Ministerial Alliance to help pay for food, medicine, and living expenses for families in need in the Hermann area.

Damhorst Toys -- Hermann's very own toy factory
When you think of Christmas you think of children. And when you think of children, you think of toys. So what better time of year is there to introduce our readers to Damhorst Toys.

Many are familiar with the business that Carol Damhorst and her late husband, Don, started as a hobby back in 1970, when the couple made wooden toys for their three young children. At first, toy making was a way to earn a little extra money to supplement Don's income. For awhile the couple sold wholesale to specialty shops, but later they decided to sell directly to individuals at arts and craft shows. This gave them the loyal customer base from which the business has grown.

In 1976, Don quit his teaching job and the Damhorsts started making toys full time. "It was so scary," said Carol about giving up the steady paycheck. But, personalized customer service was the key to making their business a success. Today, about 75 percent of the orders are from repeat customers. The company rarely advertises.
When the Damhorsts started the business, the family lived in a rural area of western St. Louis County, now Wildwood. It was a cottage industry in the truest sense of the word. Most of the work was done in a two-car garage. A chicken coop on the property served as the office and shipping department, a large barn was used for heavy cutting and storage, and a smaller out-building was the paint room. None of the buildings was heated. When Wildwood incorporated in 1996, the Damhorsts learned that theirs no longer qualified as a home business. Hence the move to Hermann in 1998.

Damhorst Toy Factory
This little guy enjoys playing with his Damhorst toys.

The Damhorsts had spent quite a bit of time in the Hermann area, but never considered relocating their business here until they were forced to leave St. Louis. However, when four of their five employees agreed to move with them, the decision to set up the manufacturing facility at the Hermann Industrial Park was easy. "We've always had really great crews," said Carol. Thanks to these loyal employees, Damhorst Toys lost only four days of production during the move. And, the Damhorsts never lost contact with their customers because they brought along the same telephone number they had used for many years.

Damhorst Toys is now owned and operated by two of the children, Kris Damhorst and Megin Cassimatis. Megin started working with the company in 2002. In January of 2004, the ownership of the company changed hands from mother to children when Kris came on board. "I'm happy the business stayed in the family and stayed the same. The kids get along and have a good work ethic," said Carol, who no longer is involved with the business. "I just come and have lunch with them once in awhile."

Kris and Megin intend to keep the business just like their parents did. Fortunately, brother and sister are like thinkers. "We talk the same and think the same," said Kris. The two carpool to Hermann every day from the St. Louis area. "That's essentially our board meeting, when we can share ideas," said Kris. Plans are to keep it a relatively small business in order to maintain the quality of their products. "We would never change any materials or design," he said. However, new products continue to be introduced.

Damhorst Toys sells their products direct to the customer. Many of the sales are made via the Internet, but the owners are happy to receive orders by phone so they can maintain personal contact with their loyal followers. The current product line includes puzzle stools, coat rack puzzles, board puzzles, toy chests, and more. These are great for kids to use as learning tools, but through the years they have become family heirlooms. According to Kris, "What it boils down to is we make toys for children and make memories for parents."

An e-mail from a satisfied customer says it all. "Just ordered another of your wonderful stools as a baby gift. We received a Damhorst stool when our 26-year-old daughter was born and another for our now 23-year-old. They used the stools to brush their teeth, climb into bed, retrieve their clothes from closets, and eventually to hold their boom boxes. Every time I see the stools in their rooms a flood of memories comes back, and I thank you!"

Damhorst toys are not available in retail stores, but you can see them on the web at The company offers free gift wrap and free shipping within the continental U.S. Orders can be placed online or by calling 800-458-3960.

Web cameras offer views of bridge construction
Ever wonder how a bridge is built? Now you can watch the actual construction of the Christopher S. Bond Bridge at Hermann thanks to web and satellite technology.

Through the combined efforts of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the City of Hermann, three web cameras have been installed at different locations that take snapshots of the bridge construction every 15 minutes. These pictures are available for public viewing on MoDOT's web site at

Construction of the $30 million project began in October and is expected to continue until the fall of 2007. Information about the ground breaking ceremony and the history of the old Hermann Bridge is available in our September 2005 newsletter on our web site.


Hermann Hill Village update

Hermann Hill Village
Four roofs

With four cottages already under roof, we hope to have our fifth one protected from the elements by early December. Exterior concrete work also is proceeding. Utilities are now on the property and, weather permitting, will be connected to each cottage shortly.

To view more of our progress, click on the Hermann Hill Village page.

Hermann Hill Village

January newsletter: Meet the Hermann Hill staff.

Hermann Hill Vineyard and Inn
711 Wein Street - P.O. Box 555 - Hermann, Missouri (MO) 65041
Phone: (573) 486-HILL (573-486-4455)  |  Fax: (573) 486-53733
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