Going Dutch

Letter From Wisconsin

I was disappointed. Here I was at "Let's Go Dutch" Days in the little western Wisconsin town of Baldwin, on an overcast August day, and I could not find any wooden shoes.

Sure, Dutch flags were flying on Main Street, and I doubted if I could find another police department in America that had Holland's national flag sewn into its patches, but I could not find one pair of wooden shoes, not even at the craft booths next to the city park. What good is a festival celebrating a town's Dutch heritage without wooden shoes?

I bumped into one of the Klompen Dancers while following the parade down Main Street.

"Oh, there used to be a fellow who came down here and gave demonstrations on how they were made," she replied. "But he hasn't come down in a while."

She, however, was wearing a homemade pair. Dressed in authentic costume, she and other members of the Klompen Dancers, the guardians of Dutch heritage in Baldwin, had just performed at Bailey Park. My faith was slowly being restored. She wore several layers of wool socks to protect herself from the wooden shoe's biggest drawback.

"You have to wear a lot on your feet to keep the blisters away," she said, noting that wooden shoes were not exactly made for comfort. "The dancing can be pretty strenuous, so you have to be well prepared."

The Klompen Dancers stood out in their...

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