About Sister Cities of Vandalia
SISTER CITIES OF VANDALIA is a non-profit international organization dedicated to fostering global friendship, understanding, and communication, serving the Vandalia Butler Community in southwestern Ohio, USA.
Sister Cities of Vandalia is a component of Sister Cities International begun by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as the "People to People" program. Today, there are over 2000 partnerships in more than 140 countries. Vandalia joined Sister Cities in 1975 when it signed Lichtenfels, Germany as its first Sister City. After a tentative first visit by Lichtenfels' Fanfarenzug Band to our Bi-centennial Parade in 1976, the relationship evolved into a biennial exchange that becomes stronger with each visit.
In 1993, Vandalia signed as its second Sister City, Prestwick, Scotland. An unusual factor in this new relationship, is that Prestwick was already paired as a Sister City with Lichtenfels. By signing the partnership agreement with Vandalia, the three cities have created a unique triangular arrangement within Sister Cities International.
Sister Cities is an exciting way for local citizens to expand their cultural, civic and educational horizons. Sister Cities of Vandalia is comprised of citizens from all walks of life, cutting across religious, economic and political lines within the Vandalia-Butler community. Sister Cities brings people here at home closer together, as well as opening a window on the world.
Sister Cities of Vandalia, while sanctioned by the City of Vandalia, is wholly funded by the Vandalia Oktoberfest falls on the first weekend after Labor Day each year.
Sister Cities of Vandalia's Story
When Walter Lakin became mayor of Vandalia, Ohio, he realized that something needed to be done to unify the city. During the time he was mayor (1971-1973), he attended a National League of Cities Conference and sat in on a Sister Cities International seminar. He was fascinated by the idea of two cities joining as partners to share common things, exchange cultures, people, students and music. He was instrumental in forming a committee from church, civic and community leaders to pursue a partnership. The idea came to fruition in 1975 when the official partnership with Lichtenfels, West Germany was formalized.
Lichtenfels, Bavaria is located in the rolling hills of central Germany and is approximately the same size as Vandalia. It was founded in the 1600's as the Crossroads of Germany and the gateway to the Bavarian mountains. Originally, the committee favored a somewhat closer foreign city for the partnership, but eventually settled upon Lichtenfels. A more compatible and friendly people could not have been found.
In 1976, Vandalia Sister Cities with only $40 in the treasury welcomed its German friends; a bugle band, and Mayor Hauptmann and his wife. They were hosted by the people of Vandalia and taken on tours of factories and Kings Island Amusement. The Fanfarenzug Drum and Bugle Corps marched in a parade in downtown Dayton. There were many adjustments to be made including the casual American way with one another as well as the different foods and the terrific heat in Ohio in the summer.
The following year, the Lakins and other Vandalians made their first visit to Lichtenfels. The city is known for its basket weaving and flower beds that line the streets and in window boxes.
The visits continued yearly until 1980 when it was decided to exchange every other year instead of every year. We are still making the exchange every other year with the exception of the year 2001, when the September visit had to be cancelled. Many strong friendships have developed among our own people here in Vandalia.
In 1978, Vandalia Sister Cities decided to hold a German Oktoberfest to raise money for hosting their German guest. It was a resounding success and has been held every year since. The money has allowed the group to arrange unusual and interesting visits for our guest. Some money raised from Oktoberfest goes for scholarships, yearly youth exchanges, the high school After Prom, Vandalia food pantry, and other charitable causes.
The entire purpose of the organization is to promote peace. To quote former President Eisenhower who founded Sister Cities International, "You don't go to war with your friends."
Our Sister Cities
LICHTENFELS, GERMANY is a small city situated on the Upper Main River in the Oberfranken region of Bavaria. A very picturesque town with remnants of the medieval village that has existed since the 1100's, today Lichtenfels is a bustling modern city mixing the old and the new. Basket making was the historic trade in the Upper Main Valley and today Lichtenfels is widely known as the Basket Capital of Germany. Each year in September the Korb (basket) Fest draws over 200,000 people. As in all German cities, Lichtenfels has a Burgermeister/Council form of government and is the core city for numerous small villages in the surrounding countryside. The people are extraordinarily friendly and wonderful hosts when Vandalians go to visit.
PRESTWICK, SCOTLAND is a small city located in Ayrshire, Scotland on the Firth of Clyde. Although situated by the sea, Prestwick’s primary industry during the Twentieth Century has been associated with aviation. Jetstream Aircraft has been a mainstay of Prestwick’s economy since 1935. Robert Burns, Scotland's renowned poet, was born in the village of Alloway just down the road from Prestwick. Scotland has more golf courses per capita than any other country. Prestwick itself maintains three, including the world famous Golf Club where the first Open Golf Championship was played in 1860. Prestwick is Scotland's oldest Baronial Burgh and the Scottish King Robert the Bruce is said to have found relief from his ailments here in the early 1100's by drinking water from "Bruce's Well". Since 1973 Prestwick has been governed by the Larger Council or Kyle and Carrick, a provost/council form of government. Vandalia is very pleased to be associated with Prestwick and is looking forward to a long and satisfying relationship with our new Scottish friends