COMMUNITY GEMS: Area woman volunteers to help add small-town touch to Germantown

Susan E. Miller has lived in Germantown almost her entire life, and she has watched as it has grown and changed. But it still has “a lot of small-town touches,” she said.

“I like the fact that it’s small, and you know everyone and everyone knows you,” she said.

Miller not only knows her neighbors, she cares about them and about bringing them together. That’s what she does each year as president of the Germantown Pretzel Festival committee.

“My community is really important to me,” she said. “I love Germantown.”

Miller was at the festival several years ago when she heard an announcement calling for volunteers. The festival, which launched in 1980, would be disbanded if nobody stepped up, so she and several friends heeded the call.

In 2019, as the festival was celebrating its 40th year, she moved into the president’s role. By helping to rebuild a new committee for the festival, she hopes it will continue for decades to come.

“I want Germantown to be on the map as a nice, polite, friendly, clean little town. We fit that category in my opinion,” said Miller, a contractor at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base who does online course development.

The Germantown Pretzel Festival takes place each year in Veterans Memorial Park during the last full weekend in September – this year, September 24-25. In addition to everything pretzel, there are multiple forms of entertainment, and the festival’s first pretzel queen was announced last year.

A pretzel contest pits foods made with pretzels against each other, and visitors can try pretzels of all varieties: soft, stuffed, homemade, dipped and more. The festival also attracts vendors of crafts and other types of food.

She estimated that the festival attracts upwards of 15,000 guests. Preparations begin in February, and the weekend is a “group effort” that requires the cooperation of many city departments and volunteers, from her grown sons, to neighbors, to high school students and many more.

“It’s community,” she said. “It’s people helping others, people enjoying life.”

After the festival has wrapped up, Miller can be found chairing the annual Christmas bazaar for Germantown United Methodist Church’s United Women of Faith group, of which she also is the president. Held the second Saturday of November, the event raises money for missions and various needs of the church.

Miller was 2 years old when she first moved to Germantown, and it is where the 64-year-old plans to stay. She pays attention to the past and upholds the traditions in the community, said Michael Miller, her husband of 35 years who nominated her as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem.

In addition to her involvement within her church and her town, she also faithfully helps a next-door neighbor in his 80s, bringing him meals and checking up on him, her husband said.

“Whatever she’s involved in, she lifts it up and takes it upon herself,” he said.

People like his wife are rare, he said.

“She’s just such an all-around bright person,” he said. “She brings good things wherever she goes.”

About the Author