2015 was my first year in Fort Wayne and consequently my first year singing at the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival. Boar’s Head festivals have been held since medieval times, and the Christian version of the festival started in 1340. Plymouth Congregational Church in Fort Wayne has been hosting the festival since 1975.
I’ll never forget my first year of Boar’s head! The show involves over 300 people and attracts thousands of audience members each year. I caught up with Eric Miller, a longtime participant in the show, to find out more about what it’s like outside of the choir loft.
Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival - Participant Perspective
Me: What is your role in the Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival?
Eric: Last year I took over the role of the Herald in the 41st Annual Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival. The Herald is a long-time friend of the Lord of the Manor, who hosts the entire village for the traditional Boar's Head Feast. The Herald announces the arrival of the hunter who slew the Boar and officially begins the feast.
Me: Tell me about the gentleman who previously held this role.
Eric: Jim Clauser originated the role of Herald and played the part for the first 40 years’ worth of productions. Clauser is a Fort Wayne South Side High School alumnus and was a teacher at R. Nelson Snider High School in Fort Wayne for 36 years.
Me: Cool! Will any other family members of yours be participating this year?
Our entire family will take part in the festival again this year. My wife Kristen will sing in the choir and ring handbells. My eight-year-old daughter Lyra will reprise her roles as a cherub angel dancing to the Shepherd's Pipe Carol and as a Caroler singing, Deck the Halls and I Saw Three Ships. My four-year-old son Evan will once again be a Yule Log Spite trekking through the audience with the Beefeaters.
We are one of many families who all participate in the Festival. There are roles for everyone, onstage or behind the scenes. It makes the Festival mean more when the whole family can share it; it's like our special Christmas gift to the city.
Me: What is your favorite part of the festival?
My favorite of the Festival is Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. That piece has always been one of my favorite holiday carols and the arrangement used in the production is wonderful. It involves the orchestra, choir, organ, handbells, and the entire cast singing the final verse.
The staging is also very simple, but so moving. All the characters we have seen throughout the Festival return to pay homage to the newborn baby. Some bring a gift, some just bow in reverence. Each character pays respects in their own way. And, if you don't know about the ending, you should come see the show for that little surprise.
A big “thank you” to Eric for his illuminating answers! And be sure to add this year’s Boar’s Head and Yule Log festival to your holiday events calendar. The show will take place on Thursday, December 29 and Friday, December 30 at 5:30 and 8:00 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational Church of Fort Wayne, 501 W. Berry St, Fort Wayne, IN 46808.
Tickets are free, but be sure to pick them up in advance--they sell out!
Plymouth Congregational Church
501 W. Berry St, Fort Wayne, IN 46808