Daughter carries on mother's Alpenfest legacy

Kristi Ballantyne fitting a woman with her blumenkrantz

OTSEGO COUNTY, Mich (WPBN/WGTU) -- Gaylord’s Alpenfest wouldn’t be the same without a booth selling homemade blumenkrantz. However, this year that booth won’t be the same, without the woman who ran it for 46 years.

“She was Alpenfest to me,” Kristi Ballantyne said about her mother Sue, who passed away in December. “She was just such a joy to be around. Everyone loved to say hi to Sue.”

Sue Ballantyne moved to Gaylord in 1971 and became a fixture in the community. She was a business owner, a former President of Alpenfest and was even a Parade Marshall. But that’s just a small part of her legacy.

“Every single one of these are made by Sue Ballantyne,” said Kristi while pointing to her tent full of handmade blumenkrantz.

Every year for 46 years, Sue would make hundreds of handmade blumenkrantz to be sold at Alpenfest. After a while, it became the family tradition.

“Probably when I was 7 or 8,” said Kristi's daughter Lily Schrader, while reflecting on the day her grandma first taught her how to make a blumenkrantz. “It felt like I was part of the tradition because... everyone would make them, and I always just wanted to make them.”

Now 46 years after Sue brought the blumenkrantz to Gaylord, it's become Alpenfest tradition, and is even the base of this year's theme.

“'Alpenfest is blumen fun,'” said Mayor John Jenkins as he showed off the official Alpenfest brochure, pointing to the picture on the front. "As you can see, on this mountain top, there's a blumenkrantz that circles the mountain top... shes the top of the mountain top for us.”

The blumenkrantz is now not only part of the festival’s theme, it’s a part of festival tradition. And there was no way Kristi was going to let that change.

“She's been preparing us for many years to carry on her legacy," said Kristi, while operating the booth her mom once ran for 46 straight years. "There’s no way that I would ever not make blumenkrantz’s every year until I can’t make them anymore.”

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