It promises to be the best of times, and the “wurst” of times.
The 45th German-American Festival will be held Aug. 27 to 29 at Oak Shade Grove, 3624 Seaman Rd., Oregon, just a half mile east of Coy Road.
The festival was originally organized to promote and enhance German and Swiss cultures and to generate revenue to support the German and Swiss cultural center in Oregon as well as a wide variety of scholarship, athletic and other philanthropic programs in the area. Over the years, it has emerged as the oldest and largest ethnic festival in the Toledo area.
This year, festival organizers are planning for upward from 25,000 paid attendees, who are expected to consume some 660 smoked “Old World”-style frankfurters, 9,500 various bratwurst, 500 bratwurst patties, 5,000 smoked sausages and 500 Käsewurst (new in 2008). They’ll likely accompany them with about 275 gallons of sauerkraut, two tons of handmade German potato salad and 50,000 handmade potato pancakes, and wash it all down with some 650 barrels and cases of domestic and imported beers, 50 cases of German wines, 7,400 bottles of soda pop and 4,000 bottles of water.
Yum! But that’s only part of the festival’s appeal. Other festival highlights include:
• An opening ceremony with parade featuring colorful costumes and pageantry.
• German-language Worship Service Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. with special music by the Teutonia Männerchor & Damenchor and Toledo Swiss Singers. Free admission to festival after the service.
• Continuous live music from local Germanic and ethnic bands on three stages, and a strolling accordionist from Germantown, Wisc.
• Large 56 x 40 foot wooden dance floor in the Fest Zelt – the main tent, a 100 x 265 foot clear span tent with no poles made in Germany.
• A Hummel Look-Alike Contest for children 2 to 10 years of age (by pre-application). The children dress like the famous Hummel figurines with prizes awarded for the most authentic look-alike.
• Amusement rides for the young and the young-at-heart, including the Berry-Go-Round, Himalaya, Paratroopers, Tilt-A-Whirl, and Swings, to name a few. All-day ride passes and discounted special pricing are available.
• Swiss Steinstossen, a centuries-old authentic Swiss stone-throwing contest in which men and women throw large stones (138 pounds and 75 pounds, respectively) in a designated area. Contests start at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Prizes awarded in both categories. Entry is open to the public.
• Something new. “Masskrugstemmen,” The goal is simple – lift and hold a 1-liter stein filled with beer, straight out with your arm level to the ground and then hold it. The current U.S. record is 11 minutes, 49 seconds. Contest starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
• Import Haus featuring imported steins, linens and other gift items. Master woodcarver Berndt Fehrenbach will display Black Forest Cuckoo clocks and other wares.
• To celebrate the 45th festival, fireworks will light up the sky Friday evening after nightfall.
• Soccer game and matches Saturday.
• Old World-style outdoor Bier & Wein Garten featuring a wooden dance floor with continuous German polkas and waltzes.
• Glockenspiel. While it’s not exactly like the famous Glockenspiel in Munich, Germany, come and enjoy a live version. Performances on the hour above the Wein Bar.
• Sidewalk Café serving kuchen, strudels, cookies and a variety of other homemade pastries. Returning this year is the German Dessert Baking Contest Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Submit entry to the Sidewalk Café (along with the recipe) on the day of the event.
• Swiss Essen Haus, an indoor/outdoor Swiss Bäckerei featuring many types of European-style and imported cheeses, breads, and meats.
• The Guest Services Booth will again have information on responsible alcohol consumption and will distribute coupons to “designated drivers” to be used for three complimentary soft drinks to enjoy while visiting the festival.
•A raffle with a $2,000 grand prize plus such prizes as a week’s stay in a Florida Gulf Coast beachfront condo, a $500 BP Gift Card, two season tickets to UT Rockets football and more. Prizes will be awarded at the drawing Sunday evening at 7 p.m.
If you go
Festival hours are Friday 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. (parade and opening ceremonies begin at 8 p.m.); Saturday 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday noon to 11 p.m. Alcohol sales cease at midnight Friday and Saturday nights. Wine and liquor available Sunday.
General admission is $7 per person. Children 12 years of age and under admitted at no charge all weekend when accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Active military personnel, police, fire, and EMS personnel will be admitted at no charge (with proof of employment) on Sunday. Senior citizens with Golden Buckeye card or equivalent will be admitted for a $1 discount on general admission on Sunday at the gate.
The festival grounds include more than 70 acres of free, lighted parking with people-movers to deliver festival-goers to the main entrance gate on Seaman Street. Parking areas are accessible from Starr Avenue, Corduroy Road or Seaman Street. People-movers operate continuously in a 27-acre parking area accessible from Seaman Road or Corduroy Road. Other entrance gates are accessible from Starr or Seaman lots.
This year, rain-or-shine parking at Starr Elementary School, Fassett Middle School and Clay High School with shuttle bus service between these lots and the festival grounds. Yeeha’s provides a complimentary shuttle service.
Handicapped parking is available from Seaman Road. There is a free handicapped shuttle on the festival grounds.
Shuttle bus service will be available for $6 from the parking lots of three Toledo-area establishments to deliver festivalgoers to the festival gate and back. The shuttle will depart from Arnie’s Westgate, Berger’s Olde Tyme on Laskey Road and the Lucas County Rec Center in Maumee. Hours are Friday 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturday 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday 2 to 11 p.m. (from Arnie’s Westgate only).
New in 2010 – buy festival and shuttle tickets online and print at home at www.germanamericanfestival.net or www.gafsociety.org/fest.htm. For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit the above websites or the festival’s page on Facebook.