The 2020 Festival of the Red Rose has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. On June 13, 2021 Zion will "pay rent" for two years to the Stiegel heirs.
Story behind the Festival of the Red Rose
In 1772 at a time when Henry William Stiegel was at the zenith of his career, he, with his wife, conveyed to their fellow Lutherans in Manheim a plot of ground on which to build a church - for five shillings and "in the month of June yearly forever hereafter the rent of One Red Rose if the same shall be lawfully demanded."
Whether the rent of a red rose was actually ever paid to Stiegel is in doubt although persistent tradition is that twice the token payment was made. Certain it is that this sentimental and lovely red rose payment was virtually forgotten until 1892, one hundred twenty years after the deed containing the red rose clause was written. In that year, a local physician, J. H. Sieling, conceived the unique idea that a churchly all-day festival might well be built around a revival of the payment of one red rose to a descendant of Stiegel, if such a one could be found. Thus the Festival of the Red Rose was instituted and a Stiegel descendant in the person of John C. Stiegel of Harrisonburg, VA came to Manheim in 1892 to receive one red rose from Zion Lutheran congregation. Since that year, on each selected Sunday in June, the congregation of Zion Lutheran Church pays the debt of one red rose to a selected Stiegel descendant in the ancient deed of seventeen hundred seventy-two.
Henry William Stiegel is one of the most celebrated characters in Lancaster County history; and as long as the Festival of the Red Rose is annually observed and as long as the major museums of our land continue to honor Stiegel by exhibiting the lovely glassware which came from his Manheim glassworks, the story of Stiegel and his town of Manheim will continue to illuminate the ages of history.