As summer begins to wind down, the pace at Oak Shade Grove in Oregon is stepping up, as final preparations are put in place for the 47th German-American Festival (GAF). The 2012 festival will run Friday, Aug. 24 through Sunday, Aug. 26.
The summer tradition, which is among the largest ethnic festivals in the Midwest, features time-honored favorite events, and some exciting new offerings.
“We’re expecting attendance of more than 30,000 this year,” said Festival Chair Timothy Pecsenye. “We are pleased to be such a cherished fixture in our community, and especially happy that this festival helps to support many philanthropic programs.” The festival funds the German and Swiss cultural center in Oregon and a variety of scholarship, athletic and other programs in the Toledo area, Pecsenye noted.
|The annual German American Festival celebrates the German and Swiss
cultures with great food, drinks and entertainment. (Press photo by Ken
The German-American Festival is synonymous with everything German – great food, drinks and entertainment. Authentic German food - from “Old World” style frankfurters and bratwurst to Leberkas, Kasewurst and Schnitzel – will be served up in astounding quantities, along with a wide assortment of side dishes and scrumptious desserts. Festival-goers can wash it all down with an impressive selection of German beers and wines, specialty drinks and soft drinks.
Enjoy continuous live music from three stages throughout the 10-acre wooded property. Featured bands this year include Austrian Express from Milwaukee, and Phenix from Chicago. German polkas and waltzes will showcase local and regional dance groups, including the local Holzhacker Baum Schuhplattler and Cleveland’s Schuhplatter the STV Bavaria.
The festival will also include a number of exciting and fun contests, games and rides, including:
Swiss Steinstossen stone throwing contest (Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.);
Brezelessen pretzel-eating contest (Saturday at 9 p.m.);
Masskrug beer stein-holding contest (Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.);
Soccer games (Saturday).
Fun for kids too
Young visitors to the festival will find plenty to do and enjoy too. “We work hard every year to ensure there will be entertainment opportunities for the kids,” Pecsenye said. “From balloon animals to stuffed animals, there will be plenty of activities to keep even the smallest family members busy.”
The designated children’s area will include face painting, balloon animals and appearances by Homer the Clown, who will be wandering the grounds Saturday and Sunday. The Hummel Look-Alike contest, which is the longest running contest of its kind, will take place Sunday afternoon. Families can watch as children pose as their favorite Hummel figurine, and maybe be inspired to join in the fun next year.
Thrill seekers can also enjoy amusement park rides including, Scooter (bumper cars), Paratrooper, Sizzler, Funhouse, Super Slide, Ferris Wheel, Merry-go-Round, Barrels of Fun, Cartoon Train, Mini-Enterprise, Tilt-a-Whirl, Fire Trucks, Whale Ride and Monkey Bounce. All-day ride passes and discounted special pricing are available again in 2012. For those who prefer to keep their feet a little closer to the ground, swings and other playground equipment are located on the grounds as well.
A new offering at the festival is the Children’s Identification Program under the supervision of the Oregon Police Division. The completed ID kit, including a set of fingerprints, is given to parents as a permanent record for child safety.
“We understand that parents are looking for fun and affordable things to do with their families,” Pecsenye said. “We are happy to announce that children under the age of 12 will be admitted to the festival free of charge when accompanied by an adult.”
Festival hours are Friday 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., with the Parade and Opening Ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Sunday noon to 11 p.m. A German-language worship service will be held at 10:30 a.m.
Oak Shade Grove is located at 3624 Seaman Rd., Oregon. Visit www.germanamericanfestival.net or www.gafsociety.org/fest.htm to learn more about festival tickets and discounts, parking and shuttles and other details.