Frankenmuth, Michigan

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City of Frankenmuth, Michigan
The Bavarian Inn in downtown Frankenmuth
The Bavarian Inn in downtown Frankenmuth
Official seal of City of Frankenmuth, Michigan
Nickname(s): Little Bavaria, Muth, The Muth
Location of Frankenmuth, Michigan.
Location of Frankenmuth, Michigan.
Coordinates: 43°19′56″N 83°44′31″W / 43.33222°N 83.74194°W / 43.33222; -83.74194
Country United States
State Michigan
County Saginaw
Settled 1845
Incorporated (village) January 14, 1904
Incorporated (city) October 1, 1959
 • Type Council-manager
 • Mayor Gary C. Rupprecht
 • City Manager Charles B. Graham
 • Total 3.04 sq mi (7.87 km2)
 • Land 2.99 sq mi (7.74 km2)
 • Water 0.05 sq mi (0.13 km2)
Elevation 633 ft (193 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 4,944
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 4,934
 • Density 1,653.5/sq mi (638.4/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Zip Code 48734
Area code(s) 989
FIPS code 26-30200[4]
GNIS feature ID 0626405[5]

Frankenmuth is a city in Saginaw County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 4,944 at the 2010 census. The city is located within Frankenmuth Township, but is politically independent. Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, which bills itself as "the World's Largest Christmas Store", is located in Frankenmuth. The most popular nickname is "Little Bavaria",[6] but the city is also nicknamed "Muth".[7]


The city's name is a combination of two words. "Franken" represents the Province of Franconia in the Kingdom of Bavaria, home of the Franks, where the original settlers were from. The German word "Mut" means courage; thus, the name Frankenmuth means "courage of the Franconians."[8] The area was settled and named in 1845 by conservative Lutheran immigrants from Roßtal area of Franconia in Germany.[9] The group of settlers left Germany on April 20, 1845 and arrived at Castle Garden seven weeks later. They traveled via canals and the Great Lakes from New York to Detroit and arrived in August 1845. Sailing on the Nelson Smith, the settlers made their way to Saginaw and travelled over land to the present location the city of Frankenmuth.[9] Originally part of Bridgeport Township and later Frankenmuth Township, Frankenmuth became a village in 1904 and finally a city on October 1, 1959[9][10]

The nearby villages of Frankenlust, Frankentrost, and Frankenhilf illustrate that the area remained a magnet for other Germans from the same region even after it lost its original purpose as a mission post for the spread of Christianity to the Ojibwe.[citation needed]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.04 square miles (7.87 km2), of which 2.99 square miles (7.74 km2) is land and 0.05 square miles (0.13 km2) is water.[1] The Cass River passes through the town.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 693
1920 733 5.8%
1930 925 26.2%
1940 1,100 18.9%
1950 1,208 9.8%
1960 1,728 43.0%
1970 2,834 64.0%
1980 3,753 32.4%
1990 4,408 17.5%
2000 4,838 9.8%
2010 4,944 2.2%
Est. 2015 5,025 [11] 1.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
Frankenmuth, Michigan Visitor Center

2010 census[edit]

Largest ancestries (2010) Percent
German Germany 49.4%
English England 12.9%
Polish Poland 8.5%
Irish Republic of Ireland 6.3%
American United States 4.4%
French France 4.0%

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 4,944 people, 2,200 households, and 1,313 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,653.5 inhabitants per square mile (638.4/km2). There were 2,396 housing units at an average density of 801.3 per square mile (309.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.4% White, 0.5% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 0.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.9% of the population.

There were 2,200 households of which 23.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.5% were married couples living together, 7.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.3% were non-families. 37.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 22.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.82.

The median age in the city was 50.1 years. 19.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 17.9% were from 25 to 44; 28% were from 45 to 64; and 28.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 44.9% male and 55.1% female.

2000 census[edit]

Largest ancestries (2000) Percent
German Germany 52.9%
English England 13.2%
Irish Republic of Ireland 9.5%
Polish Poland 7.9%
French France 6.0%
American United States 5.8%
Riverside shops in Frankenmuth

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 4,838 people, 2,123 households, and 1,322 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,773.6 per square mile (684.2/km²). There were 2,240 housing units at an average density of 821.2 per square mile (316.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.80% White, 0.27% African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.06% from other races, and 0.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.95% of the population.

Citizens with German ancestry form nearly 53% of the city population.

24.8% households have children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.8% were married couples living together, 5.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.7% were non-families. 35.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the city, the population was spread out with 20.4% under the age of 18, 4.7% from 18 to 24, 21.3% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 28.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females there were 80.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $51,153, and the median income for a family was $71,667. Males had a median income of $51,004 versus $29,959 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,479. About 2.4% of families and 4.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.2% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.


Tourism and farming drive the local economy. Frankenmuth draws over three million tourists annually to its Bavarian-themed shops and restaurants such as the Bavarian Inn, Frankenmuth Brewery, Zehnder's, and Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. Frankenmuth also attracts tourists with festivals and other events throughout the year.

In addition to tourism, a significant number of residents in and around the community work in agriculture.


St. Lorenz Lutheran Church in Frankenmuth

The strong influence of Franconian-style architecture can be found in most areas of the city. Most buildings in the commercial district, as well as many homes, feature stylistic interpretations of the timber-framed buildings found in the Franconia region of Germany. This style is marked by the use of timbers in "square" and "X" patterns on the outside of buildings, as well as the use of "X" patterns on windows, doors, and other building features. The concept of building with this unique Bavarian architecture came from an architect, Ed Beech, who was working for William "Tiny" Zehnder on a remodeling job of the Fischer Hotel.[citation needed]


The city is served by the Frankenmuth School District.



The World Expo of Beer[edit]

The World Expo of Beer is a non-profit beer festival ran by the Frankenmuth Jaycees, proceeds are donated to different organizations in need of funding around the state of Michigan. The beneficiary differs from year to year. The event is held the third weekend of May at the Harvey Kern Pavilion.[13]

Dog Bowl and Great Lakes Regional Hot Air Balloon Championships[edit]

The Dog Bowl is an Olympic-style series of many dog events illustrating many different breeds of dogs competing, held over Memorial Weekend in late May. Dock Dog competition is a nationally sanctioned event where dogs compete for distance, height and speed in retrieval from the water. The dogs leap at top speeds into a 30-foot-long (9.1 m) pool and are measured on these criteria. Disc Dog competitions track speed and distance of dogs catching discs. Wiener dog races with over 200 dogs racing in separate heats in the central courtyard of River Place.

Along with the day-long events are 40 hot air balloons competing from five Great Lakes Region states to achieve tasks in the air and drop bean bags on targets from the air in competition. Balloon glows are held on the Saturday and Sunday evenings with all balloons tethered to the ground at dusk displaying the balloon envelopes and allowing the public to walk amongst them.

Bavarian Fest[edit]

The Bavarian Fest began in 1959 in collaboration with the Grand Opening Celebration of the Bavarian-Style addition to Fischer's Hotel on the main street of the city by "Tiny" William Zehnder. In 1970, the event outgrew the parking lots of the Main Street restaurants and moved to what is now Heritage Park.

Visitors of all ages are invited to hear Bavarian music played by authentically dressed German bands, watch two parades, enjoy an expanded midway with rides and games, dance music, face painting, and a hands-on craft area.

Venues sell many varieties of German foods and desserts, along with imported and domestic beer.

Each year, over 100,000 people enjoy the annual Sunday Bavarian Festival Parade, usually featuring over 100 entries including marching bands, decorated floats, dance clubs, visiting dignitaries, entertainers, royalty, and that year's newly crowned Bavarian Princess and her Court.

The Bavarian Festival has been voted one of the "Top 5 Festivals in the State of Michigan" by AAA's Michigan Living Magazine.[14] It is held in early June.

Summer Music Fest[edit]

Frankenmuth's Summer Music Fest, now in its 22nd year, is a week long polka festival. The event is sponsored a by Pepsi and takes place in Frankenmuth's Heritage Park.[15] The event draws over 25,000 visitors annually to Frankenmuth.[16]


In 1990, Frankenmuth, also known as "Michigan's Little Bavaria," celebrated its first Oktoberfest. The Frankenmuth Oktoberfest celebrates German culture, heritage and love. The goal of the festival is to retain as much of the Bavarian heritage of the region as possible. Frankenmuth is the first Oktoberfest outside of Munich to be sanctioned by the Parliament and the City of Munich.[15]

Frankenmuth SnowFest[edit]

Frankenmuth is also host to one of the top snow-sculpting events in North America, Zehnder's SnowFest, which includes the United States Collegiate National Ice Carving Championships.[17]

Places of interest[edit]

Covered Bridge[edit]

Covered bridge entrance, Frankenmuth, Michigan,

Zehnder's Holz Brucke (German for wooden bridge) is a wooden covered bridge, built in a style similar to that of the Black Forest or a river valley in Switzerland, located over the Cass River in the middle of town. Though completed in 1979, the structure is constructed using traditional covered-bridge timber framing techniques. The floor joists and three-span Town lattice truss system of the 239' bridge are made of 15,960 board feet of four inch planks. The portion receiving the greatest wear is of oak while the remaining portion is spruce. 20,000 board feet of Douglas Fir make up the rafters and the roof is shingled with cedar. An additional 4,340 board feet of pine was required for the bridge side boards. In addition to two lanes for automobile traffic, the bridge also has two pedestrian walkways.[18]

Heritage Park[edit]

Heritage Park is Frankenmuth's most well-known park. It is located at 601 Weiss Street and is home to many community activities, festivals and large events. The Harvey E. Kern Community Pavilion is the newest addition and has become a focal point of the park. The park also features 4 picnic pavilions, 3 ball diamonds, playgrounds, sand volleyball courts, basketball court, riverwalk pathway (0.9 miles) and several facilities for festivals.[19]

The West Entrance to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland.

Print media[edit]

Frankenmuth News[edit]

The Frankenmuth News has been Frankenmuth's primary newspaper since 1906. It is released on a weekly basis (Wednesday for news stands and Thursday for residential) and focuses on issues of local concern.[20]

Sister city[edit]


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-06-17. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ Jordan, Heather (September 12, 2014). "Gov. Rick Snyder speaks to Saginaw County Chamber crowd in 'Michigan's Little Bavaria'". The Saginaw News. MLive Media Group. Retrieved October 16, 2014. 
  7. ^ Tabacsko, Ken (February 9, 2008). "'Phantom' veteran performs in 'Muth". The Saginaw News. MLive Media Group. Retrieved October 16, 2014. 
  8. ^ Frankenmuth. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing. 2008. ISBN 978-0-7385-6175-2. 
  9. ^ a b c Mills, James (1918). History of Saginaw County, Michigan: historical, commercial, biographical, Volume 2. Seeman & Peters. 
  10. ^ Public and local acts of the Legislature of the State of Michigan. Legislative Service Bureau. 1960. p. 302. 
  11. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016. [permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  13. ^ [1], Official Site of the World Expo of Beer.
  14. ^ Frankenmuth Festivals, Official Site of the Frankenmuth Festivals. Retrieved on September 28, 2007.
  15. ^ a b "Welcome to Frankenmuth Festivals 2011!"
  16. ^ "Marvin O. Herzog, 70". Obituaries. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. December 17, 2002. 
  17. ^ Orrin Shawl (January 29, 2012). "Snow and cold don't keep crowds from Zehnder's Snowfest 2012 in Frankenmuth on Sunday". The Flint Journal. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ City of Frankenmuth Heritage Park Retrieved on December 28, 2011
  20. ^ Frankenmuth News

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°19′54″N 83°44′17″W / 43.33167°N 83.73806°W / 43.33167; -83.73806