New Ulm, MN

"The heart of Minnesota nice"

New Ulm residents raise their glasses, or pitchers, at Schell’s annual Bock Fest. (Credit: Don Borstad)      

New Ulm is a small town of about 14,000 smiling faces, founded in 1854 by German immigrants, and many of our visitors describe us as Germany without a passport. With our historic buildings and polka music, we have a way of transporting you to Germany without crossing the Atlantic. A trip to New Ulm would have to include our 102-foot Hermann Monument, sipping a craft beer at Schell’s Brewery, the second-oldest family-owned brewery in the US, and dancing around our town’s Glockenspiel. If you don’t know how to polka, a local will surely show you!

When the music starts, break out your lederhosen because so does the polka! (Credit: Abby Berg)

Stories About New Ulm

One of our goals is to make everyone feel welcome in New Ulm. When you drive into town you are immediately welcomed by our Willkommen signs. The New Ulm Chamber of Commerce leads our Willkommen Committee, a group of representatives from around town that meets every week just to welcome new businesses, chamber members, or employees to New Ulm.

We also welcome our visitors with a visitor’s bag! Each bag comes with a visitor’s guide, additional pamphlets and information about New Ulm, coupons, and we wouldn’t be doing right by our German heritage if we didn’t throw a sauerkraut sample in there!

New Ulm has the best sauerkraut this side of the Atlantic, guaranteed! (Credit: Don Borstad)

New Ulm is an overly friendly town. If you don’t believe us, come see us at a four-way stop during construction season when everyone is trying to wave the other through! If you aren’t from here we will make you feel like you are! Through social media, someone shared a story with us about how once while in the public library, two complete strangers started a full conversation in German after one sneezed and the other said gesundheit. New Ulm is full of friendly faces ready to spark a conversation regardless of whether or not they know you. Our unique traditions have a way of bringing people out of their shell. Our famous Narren and dancing gnomes will pull you to the dance floor and make you feel like you’ve lived in New Ulm your entire life.

A story that we think demonstrates Minnesota nice and the overall spirit of New Ulm happened in July 2015. Four local Boy Scouts and their Scoutmaster were traveling back to New Ulm from Camp Cuyuna, when an accident occurred in front of them in heavy traffic. Each of the scouts sprang into action: calling 911, directing traffic, and attending to those injured. It took 45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, but some of the boys had extensive first aid training and were able to help the injured until help arrived. Since then, the boys have received a special Award of Merit and have spoken up at events about the importance of first aid training. New Ulm is proud to be the home of these boys!

A major staple in the New Ulm community is philanthropy. New Ulm has a number of great nonprofit organizations that are viable because of the overwhelming support from the community. Some of our greatest attractions wouldn’t be possible without dedicated volunteers or generous donations. We have several galas and other fundraising events that do remarkably well, because we have such an actively involved community!

For example, our New Ulm Food Shelf is a volunteer-run organization that has been helping feed area families in need for years. The most amazing part of our food shelf is that it has so much support from the community and local businesses that they don’t have to do any of their own fundraising! Donations from the community allow them to feed roughly 175 families per month!

Another nonprofit that has received overwhelming support from our community is Southern Minnesota Crisis Nursery. The purpose of the Southern Minnesota Crisis Nursery is to provide 24-hour care for children ages 0-12 in a safe and loving environment while supporting families who are experiencing a stressful situation. This is just one of many nonprofit organizations whose mission is possible through the hard work of volunteers and generous donations from the community.

People in the New Ulm community are known for putting in the hard work in order to play hard. Whether it be in our workplace or in our home, we take pride in the way we work. New Ulm is recognized for our festivals like Oktoberfest, Bavarian Blast, and Bock Fest, but our festivals are only so great because of the efforts that the community puts in every single day. New Ulm is an industrious community, but we are able to uphold a creative and fun-loving spirit!

Narrens dress in hand-carved German masks and are present at all New Ulm events and festivals. (Credit: Abby Berg)

One organization that has been particularly nice to our community is our New Ulm Optimist Club. Not only have they been empowering area youth for over 20 years, but they also recognize people in the community with their POP campaign, where they award a Positive Optimistic Person with a pop (in total Midwest fashion).

With three school systems located in New Ulm, we take pride in our education. One event that shows our niceness is when local elementary teacher Kathy Jo Lux retired this year, as students from her 36 years of teaching lined up holding signs saying what year and grade she taught them as they sent her off into retirement.

Watch students lead retiring NUACS teacher Kathy Jo Lux to a group of former students. One person from each of her 36 years teaching lined up outside St. Anthony's Elementary to say goodbye.

Posted by The Journal, New Ulm, Minn. on Thursday, 24 May 2018

Another story that exemplifies the New Ulm community coming together involves JD the dog. In April, a volunteer for Brown County Humane Society was walking the shelter’s newest resident, JD. JD was unsure of his new surroundings, pulling away from the walker and bolting. After the shelter was unable to track JD, they reached out to the community for help. Through the Lost Pets New Ulm Facebook page and New Ulm residents posting updates on JD sightings and help from The Retrievers, a rescue based in Minneapolis, the community was able to locate and safely return JD to Brown County Humane Society after a whole month on the run, where he will hopefully find his forever home.

A local New Ulm celebrity who deserves recognition for his niceness is Ted Marti, president of August Schell Brewing Company, the oldest brewery in the state of Minnesota and the second-oldest family-owned brewery in the nation! The Marti family is constantly being recognized for their generosity, especially with their donations to veteran charities. Last year, Ted was inducted into the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame and as a way of congratulating him, the town rallied together and produced a video of people all around town wishing him well on his accomplishment.