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Salzburgers to have their day
Blacksmith Jim Fronsak keeps an eye on his fire while shaping horseshoes into heart shapes during the 2017 Heritage Day Festival at Ebenezer. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
RINCON — On Labor Day from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m., the Georgia Salzburger Society and Jerusalem Lutheran Church will celebrate the 284th anniversary of the Salzburgers' landing in Georgia. Known as Heritage Day, the free event is slated at Historic Ebenezer, 2980 Ebenezer Road, Rincon. Heritage Day will feature activities that reflect what life was like at the time Georgia was settled. There will will also be traditional German foods, live music and much more. Beginning in 1734, about 300 Salzburgers, Protestants who were expelled from their native land (presently Austria), began arriving in Georgia in search of religous freedom. The Trustees of the Colony of Georgia extended them an invitation two years earlier. King George II of England, a German duke and Lutheran, sympathized with them. The German-speaking Salzburgers were exiled because they refused to adhere to the religious beliefs of Count Leopold von Firmian, the Catholic archbishop and prince of Salzburg. Instead, they opted to follow the teachings of Martin Luther. In addition to the 300 Salzburgers who ended up in Georgia, roughly 20,000 more were spread among East Prussia (16,000), Holland (200) and other locations (3,500). They were usually forced to leave their children behind. Many Salzburgers died during their search for a new home as a result of harsh conditions at sea or in the Alps. In 1736, Gen. James Edward Oglethorpe, who founded the colony of Georgia, granted the Salburgers' request to relocate to Ebenezer's current site on the banks of the Savannah River. During Heritage Day, the Salzburgers and their way of life will be remembered through a variety of about 40 activities, including syrup making and chair caning. There will also be a petting zoo and hay rides. Food fare will include barbecue, peanuts, baked goods, honey and jams, and German cuisine. A batch of Salzburger lemonade will also be available. Justin Cherry will display a replica Salzburger clay oven. He will bake bread in it, using the same type of wheat the Salzburgers did. "We're really excited about that," said Georgia Salzburger Society member Claudia Christiansen. "He is going to set up Sunday night and start baking bread. He came here last year and did a lot of research." The Heritage Day Festival will also feature Margaret Wilson, a local genealogy expert who is well known for using DNA as a genealogy tool. She will conduct a question-and-answer session in the Jerusalem Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 2 p.m. See the Aug. 29 edition of the Effingham Herald for more details.